cover image Whispers of Shadow & Flame

Whispers of Shadow & Flame

L. Penelope. St. Martin’s Griffin, $17.99 trade paper (496p) ISBN 978-1-250-14809-4

Penelope ambitiously expands on the story of warring kingdoms Elsira and Lagrimar in this magnetic, spellbinding second Earthsinger Chronicles fantasy (after Song of Blood & Stone). Kyara ul-Lagrimar is a cursed royal assassin known as the Poison Flame who possesses Nethersong, the power to bring about death. Lagrimar’s king tasks her with identifying and capturing the Shadowfox, the powerful leader of a rebel band of life-giving Earthsingers. Kyara goes undercover, and during an operation to free kidnapped children, she meets a handsome fellow by the name of Darvyn ul-Tahlyro. Their connection is instant, powerful, and terribly inconvenient, because Darvyn is the Shadowfox and Kyara is magically bound to turn him over to her king or die. Penelope crafts highly developed characters who are distinct and sympathetic, giving them exciting and varied relationship dynamics including deep, intimate friendships and found family that are given equal weight to the central romance. Clean prose encapsulates a sound, well-constructed plot. Despite an enticing cliff-hanger, this taut, suspenseful fantasy stands alone, and readers new to the series can comfortably start here. This is a wonderful integration of high-stakes epic fantasy intrigue with intimate personal connections. Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary. (Oct.)