cover image Call of Fire

Call of Fire

Beth Cato. Harper Voyager, $14.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-242211-8

Cato brings increased nuance and skilled characterization to her second Breath of Earth historical fantasy (after Breath of Earth), set in an alternate early-20th-century San Francisco. Ingrid Carmichael, who was unable to use her earth magic to spare the city from the infamous 1906 earthquake, takes up the cause of its persecuted Chinese residents, who have been blamed by the Japanese-American Unified Pacific (UP) coalition for the deaths of the city’s protective geomancers. Accompanying her new friend Cy Jennings aboard his airship, Ingrid pursues her threatened Japanese mentor, Mr. Sakaguchi, and his Chinese allies north to Seattle, where they try to evade capture by a fox spirit masquerading as one of the 12 directors of the UP. Surviving encounters with legendary creatures—thunderbirds, qilin, Theodore Roosevelt—Ingrid uncovers more of her own uncanny heritage, which is linked to Pele, volcano goddess of Hawaii. Cato ably juggles historical fact and fantastical elements to create an alternate 1900s America as finely adorned with Asiatic touches as the modified kimono that Ingrid wears. Her characters of all backgrounds share traits such as a love of family that emphasize their kinship even as power, politics, and racial enmity drive them to war. Agent: Rebecca Strauss, DeFiore and Company. (Aug.)