cover image Burned


Benedict Jacka. Ace, $7.99 mass market (336p) ISBN 978-0-425-27576-4

The seventh Alex Verus novel (after Veiled) may be the best so far in a consistently outstanding urban fantasy series. Jacka ruthlessly rips away all the protections that London-based diviner mage Alex built against his former master, power-hungry Dark mage Richard Drakh. While trying to reverse a death sentence engineered by a grudge-holding mage on Britain’s Light Council, Alex is distracted by a fiery assassination attempt that destroys his home and livelihood. He is then coerced into taking part in a Light mission to retrieve a dangerous magical artifact hidden in Aleppo, Syria, where civil war is as much of a danger as rival mages. And, as always, he must protect the three young magicians in his care. Alex has been reliably clever and resourceful while remaining independent of both Dark and Light cabals, but this novel shows him recognizing his own desperate vulnerability. The stakes suddenly are much higher for Alex and his friends, putting the complex, sympathetic central characters in real peril and rousing serious concern in readers. As the action gathers momentum, a dramatic series climax hovers on the horizon. Fans of Jim Butcher and Ben Aaronovich absolutely should not miss this deeply intelligent, morally complex, and action-packed series. Agent: Sophie Hicks, Sophie Hicks Agency (U.K.). (Apr.)