cover image Phantom Pains

Phantom Pains

Mishell Baker. Saga, $15.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5192-5

Picking up four months after the end of Borderline, Baker once again immerses readers in a modern-day fantastical Los Angeles, blurring the line between perception and reality with breathtaking ease. Many of Hollywood’s biggest stars and directors are secretly paired with fairy Echoes, who boost the humans’ creativity in exchange for a taste of mortal life and talents. Series protagonist Millie, a would-be filmmaker, has developed coping strategies for her physical and mental disabilities that prove surprisingly useful for dealing with these supernatural entities. Seeking independence, she pulls away from the Arcadia Project, the quasi-official bridge between humans and fairies, and gets a job at Valiant Studios, her own apartment, and a workable therapeutic routine. But her friendship with her former boss, Caryl, and the potential of a relationship with her own Echo, Claybriar, keep pulling her back into the project’s realm of influence. The continued struggle between the Seelie and Unseelie fairy courts is echoed in the ripples caused by the climax of the first book, and, when a new threat looms, Millie must untangle fairy and human secrets before both Earth and Arcadia are irreparably damaged. Baker has a wonderfully subtle touch with delicate emotional, psychological, and romantic elements, and she builds a solid foundation of complex and interesting characterization upon which she layers heart-pounding action and a brilliantly twisty plot. Each word is deliberately chosen for maximum effect. Everything readers think they know about both worlds will be upended by this enthralling installment. Agent: Rachel Kory, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (Mar.)