cover image Saint Death’s Daughter

Saint Death’s Daughter

C.S.E. Cooney. Solaris, $27.99 (624p) ISBN 978-1-78618-470-2

World Fantasy Award winner Cooney (Bone Swans) underwhelms with this lugubrious tale of political assassinations between necromancers and bird-wizards, which sees a potentially breathless sword-and-sorcery fantasy bogged down by a torrent of exposition. Miscellaneous “Lanie” Immiscible Stones is a necromancer with an unusual allergy to physical harm, showing symptoms at even the mention of violence, while her sister, Amanita “Nita” Muscaria, is an assassin with the power to compel others to do her will. Queen Erralierra of Brackenwilds commands Nita to assassinate the Parliament of Rooks, Queen Bran Fiakhna of Rook’s harem of 24 wizards. But after Nita kills 22 of the wizards, Queen Bran takes her revenge, and it’s up to Lanie to save Nita’s annoying, sociopathic daughter, Datu, and keep Queen Bran from taking over Brackenwilds. Though Lanie’s bittersweet romance with nonbinary fire priest Canon Lir adds some charm and the magic system is meticulously worked out, it isn’t enough to balance the constant overexplaining of the novel’s worldbuilding and character relationships, with info dumps and backstory often interrupting moments that are crucial to the plot. It makes for a slog only suited for Cooney’s most devoted fans. Agent: Markus Hoffmann, Regal Hoffman & Assoc. (Apr.)