cover image Citadel


C.M. Alongi. Blackstone, $28.99 (430p) ISBN 979-8-2008-3642-0

Alongi’s entertaining debut matches familiar SF tropes with strong characters and fascinating worldbuilding. Four centuries after a colony ship crashed on the planet Edalide, the descendants of the survivors eke out an increasingly meager and cramped existence in their only city, Citadel. Outside Citadel’s walls is the Flooded Forest, drowned by biweekly high tides and home to packs of vicious animals known as demons. Citadel’s holy scripture states that demons kill any human they can catch and commands the settlers to kill every last demon in return. Olivia, the nonverbal autistic daughter of the captain of the city guards, goes to the forest on a mission to source desperately needed medicinal plants when she meets a demon face-to-face—and instead of attacking her, it brings her the plants she’s seeking. Indeed, everything that Citadel has taught Olivia about demons is wrong, putting Olivia on the trail of a conspiracy that runs all the way to Citadel’s revered founder and everything the city was built on. As the first in a series, Alongi’s novel ably sets up a sequel, leaving plenty of exciting questions still to answer. Olivia makes a refreshing protagonist, and her youth will ensure this has crossover YA appeal. Readers who grew up on Cressida Cowell and Patricia C. Wrede will be especially delighted. Agent: Julie Gwinn, Seymour Agency. (June)