cover image Hearthfire


Emmie Mears. Indigo, $27.95 (420p) ISBN 978-1-947727-51-9

Mears’s fantasy series opener introduces the seemingly utopian world of the Hearthland: peaceful, prosperous, free of want. All adolescent Hearthlanders undertake vision quests in which they learn their true names and the dark secret behind the Hearthland’s prosperity: magic that drains the life force from other lands, starving them. Most accept this knowledge and return to their community, but Carin and her friend Ryd cannot; horrified, they flee, becoming exiles. They make a new life in a hungry, harsh land, where Carin must decide whether she will break the life-draining spell by destroying the stones that bind it. The storytelling is effective, if formulaic, and the characters are pleasantly appealing. Mears has crafted a highly detailed world in which equality of men, women, and the nonbinary hyrsin is taken for granted by all, and it’s enjoyable to see a unique and idealistic treatment of gender that is not a central part of the plot. The conclusion will leave readers eager for Carin’s further adventures. Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary. (July)