cover image Smoke and Summons

Smoke and Summons

Charlie N. Holmberg. 47North, $24.95 (365p) ISBN 978-1-5039-0543-6

An enslaved woman fleeing for her life must work with a jaded thief to keep her freedom in Holmberg’s enthralling fantasy. Sandis Gwenwig is a vessel, a human with the rare ability to host high-level demons for summoners to use as weapons, and is enslaved by the summoner Kazen. Unlike other vessels, she can communicate with the demon who is bound to her flesh. When Kazen’s ambition proves too great and he kills a vessel, Sandis flees into the underbelly of Dresberg. There she allies with Rone Comf, a thief with a magical item that grants him immortality. Rone seeks to free his mother, who has been imprisoned for his heists. Kazen will stop at nothing to retrieve Sandis, and soon Sandis and Rone are forced to fight and flee for their lives. Sandis is both sweetly naive and strong-willed, but Rone sometimes reads as flat, and his concerns are less vivid than those of the empathetic Sandis. Late in the book, readers will be shocked by an act of horrifying treachery and perhaps unhappy that it’s resolved too quickly and neatly. Nonetheless, the story is gripping from the start, with a surprising plot and a lush, beautifully realized setting. Holmberg (The Paper Magician) knows just how to please fantasy fans with plenty of magic and intrigue. (Feb.)