cover image We Are Not Good People

We Are Not Good People

Jeff Somers. S&S/Gallery, $16.99 trade paper (688p) ISBN 978-1-4516-9679-0

Somers’s heartbreaking second Ustari Cycle installment (after Trickster) is soaked in blood and steeped in deadly power and desperation. Lemuel “Lem” Vonnegan is a low-level magician by choice. Though he has tremendous potential, Lem uses only his own blood for his spells, refusing even voluntary sacrifices that would lend him power. Pitr “Mags” Mageshkumar, his faithful friend, lacks the skills to make use of the power he carries in his veins. The pair live as lowly Tricksters until a chain of misfortunes and ruined con jobs lands them in a war against mages who are eager to bleed the world for power. Somers conjures a riveting setting that bends and breaks time and again, each iteration raising the stakes for his accidental hero. By turns frightening and sorrowful, this is a story that offers no good choices to its characters. The ever-present violence is balanced by compassion, which in turn is eroded by the grim fight to save humankind. There is very little resolution in this twisting labyrinth of a plot; the conclusion either defies logic or resets the cycle of bloodshed. (Oct.)