cover image Shorefall


Robert Jackson Bennett. Del Rey, $28 (512p) ISBN 978-1-5247-6038-0

The thoughtful second installment to Bennett’s Founders fantasy trilogy (after 2018’s Foundryside) kicks off as a clever caper but swiftly changes tone, shifting into supernatural horror. Sancia Grado, an ex-thief able to “flex” her mind to see hidden magical inscriptions and commune with enchanted objects, aids her fellow mage-technicians of Foundryside—a well-wrought fantasy world that will put readers in mind of Renaissance Venice—to infiltrate the grand merchant houses of the city’s robber barons and redistribute their powerful “scrived” belongings to the public. But as Sancia’s budding revolution celebrates its first success, the resurrection of a legendary wizard, the hierophant Crasedes Magnus, forces Sancia to turn to her own scrived objects to combat him. The ancient magical items she’ll need are powerful enough to rewrite reality and sentient enough to have their own agendas, leaving Sancia with an impossible choice between “the unimaginable and the irredeemable.” The industrialized magic system is intricate and fascinating (if at times overly detailed), and Bennett’s characterization of the unhinged, all-powerful Crasedes strikes a perfect balance between terror and allure. This thrilling installment will leave readers eager for the series finale. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary. (Apr.)