cover image The Nine

The Nine

Tracy Townsend. Pyr, $18 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-633-88341-3

Townsend’s intriguing debut of nearly flawless writing follows an extremely flawed creation. In this alternate universe, science has become a religion that views God as a great experimenter. A magical book, which lists the nine people God is watching to decide whether to destroy the world, is desired by many factions with different goals. Anyone who learns about the book is likely to be targeted by the minions of the evil Nasrahiel, a nonhuman who wants humankind to fail God’s trial. Thirteen-year-old underworld courier Rowena Downshire is something of a passive protagonist who’s pushed around by the story. She doesn’t know the package she’s delivering is the book. When it’s stolen, she reports the theft to its intended recipient, the mysterious and dreaded Alchemist, who pulls her into a world of battles against Nasrahiel and other villains that’s far more dangerous than the poverty-stricken life she’d endured. The portrayal of God as the ultimate scientific experimenter and a civilization in which rationality does little to fend off brutality and corruption make for a gritty series opener. The most appealing characters are those who willingly travel to the scariest places, and all hopes are nerve-rackingly pinned on them. Agent: Bridget Smith, Dunham Literary. (Nov.)