cover image King of Scars

King of Scars

Leigh Bardugo. Imprint, $19.99 (528p) ISBN 978-1-250-14228-3

In this sweeping dramatic fantasy, Bardugo returns to her Grishaverse and the events in both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. Young King Nikolai struggles to maintain order in the kingdom of Ravka following war against the malevolent Darkling. Nikolai’s efforts are complicated by the nocturnal emergence of a demon residing within him, and only his trusted confidante Zoya can help him maintain control. Meanwhile, Grisha-turned-spy Nina, still mourning the death of her beloved Matthias, works in secret to protect Grisha fugitives while investigating strange occurrences in the countryside. When Nikolai and Zoya vanish during an attempt to rid the king of his demon, it’s up to his closest friends to protect the country in his absence, little realizing that the chain of events might lead to the resurgence of a great evil. This duology opener strongly relies on at least a passing familiarity with the previous series, making it less than ideal for newcomers. But Bardugo’s portrayal of flawed, mentally and physically scarred protagonists is sympathetic and insightful, while the strong mixture of political intrigue, worldbuilding, and fantastical elements helps to drive the various story lines. Ages 14–up. Agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary. (Jan.)