cover image The Scarlet Throne

The Scarlet Throne

Amy Leow. Orbit, $19.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-56248-5

Debut author Leow launches her False Goddess series with a gripping dark fantasy inspired by Southeast Asian folk religion. Binsa, 15, has been the Rakhti, or the vessel of the goddess Rashmatun, and therefore the ruler of Bakhtin, for the past 10 years. No one knows, however, that she does not actually host the goddess but instead harbors the demon Ilam. Because of her extended and unusual tenure as Rashmatun’s vessel, the priest Harun organizes a selection process to remove Binsa from power and install a new Rakhti. When Binsa discovers his ploy, she desperately turns to blood magic to strengthen her bond with Ilam and increase her abilities—at the cost of innocent lives. With the people of Bakhtin losing confidence in her ability and the country suffering from a drought, Binsa must gather enough power to summon rain and dispel their doubts. Binsa makes for a fascinating and deeply morally ambiguous antihero. Readers won’t necessarily root for her, but her secrets and scheming will have them on the edges of their seats. The worldbuilding, meanwhile, feels rich and specific. This tension-filled adventure gets Leow off to a strong start. (Sept.)