cover image Shadow Valley

Shadow Valley

Steven Barnes, . . Del Rey, $26 (254pp) ISBN 978-0-345-45903-9

Readers unfamiliar with 2006's Great Sky Woman will struggle a bit with the slow opening of this stand-alone sequel, a fantasy set in Africa around 28,000 B.C., but those who stay the course will find it worth the effort. T'Cori is a young leader of her people, the Ibandi, who look to her and their holy woman Stillshadow to lead them to a new land. During the trek they encounter the bloodthirsty Mk*tk tribe, a rogue Ibandi warrior and primal threats from nature itself. A folktale rhythm proves less than effective at conveying heaps of backstory, but as the characters fill out and the wanderers fight to survive against mounting odds, their tale becomes all at once rugged and elegant in style, a mix of harsh bloodletting with a primeval close-to-the-land beauty. (May)