cover image The Stardust Grail

The Stardust Grail

Yume Kitasei. Flatiron, $28.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-87537-2

Kitasei’s outstanding sophomore outing clears the high bar she set in The Deep Sky, combining a high-stakes space adventure with exquisitely crafted worldbuilding and plausibly imagined interspecies communication. Maya Hoshimoto, a doctoral student studying comparative cultures, is haunted by her past as a notorious art thief who pulled off daring, dazzling heists until finally being caught. After escaping from prison alongside Auncle, a member of the tentacled Frenro species, creators of the Interstellar Web that connects the universe’s solar systems, who have “a sort of peripheral vision of the past and future of certain versions of the universe,” she’s lying low. Maya’s life is upended again, however, when she learns that a lost record of an expedition in search of the stardust grail, an artifact essential to the continued survival of the Frenro, has resurfaced, even as an unknown force has begun to destroy the nodes linking the universe’s solar systems. These developments take Maya back into space, and to a reunion with Auncle, to find the last remaining grail, and avert disaster. Kitasei makes the duo’s search more than a MacGuffin hunt, ensuring emotional involvement by gradually revealing the morally ambiguous choices Maya made in the past and might be tempted to repeat. Readers will be riveted. (June)