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November 2, 2020

3 New & Notable YA Fantasy Novels

by MK French

I'm back with another list of not to be missed fantasy novels. This time I'm focusing on 3 young adult fantasy novels that have recently published or coming out later this month.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Dragon’s Winter by Kandi J. Wyatt

Dragon's Winter
November 2020; Indie; 979-8688877847
ebook, print (177 pages); sword & sorcery
Mere continues with her apprenticeship in San Valencia as a strange illness sweeps through the dragon colony. She has to help a pregnant girl escape the colony; she’s one of the slaves that Jareem had helped rescue. The slaver that captured the girl wants her back and is persistent about finding her. Jareem has to find the girl and Mere before the girl gives birth, and help them all find a place of safety.

Dragon's Winter is the seventh book of the Dragon Courage series. I’ve read other books by Kandi Wyatt, but not this series. Even so, it’s pretty straightforward from the beginning, with whatever we need to know from prior books woven into the story. Mere is new to San Valencia, after all, so her uncle discussing things and her thinking on changes is a natural way to clue the reader into what’s going on. There are several dragon riders willing to help Jareem, and their organization had been involved with putting a dent in prior slave trade in the area for some time. As in the real world, here the slavers had gone underground and joined forces to avoid authorities; this being a fantasy setting means there is magic at work as well.

Much of the focus is on Jareem, who is essentially the face of the plan to get the pregnant girl and then her husband out of captivity. Mere, as a healer and new to the situation, gets to be our eyes into the situation, as well as the healer to figure out the illness befalling the others and caring for others. She was ambivalent about being new to this dragon colony, and for being on her own without a dragon. This sets up the reader to see the pros and cons of such an alliance and helps serve as a sounding board when Jareem is influenced by the magicked ebony.

With a storyline like this, there is action and intrigue. The villain is pretty irredeemable and goes out of his way to try to subjugate more people and put them (literally) under his spell for power and money. Justice is meted out by the end of the novel, with the promise of a better future.

Buy Dragon's Winter at Amazon

Goblin King by Kara Barbieri

Goblin King
Nov 2020; Wednesday Books; 978-1250247605
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); fairytale
Janneke survived the Hunt for the Stag, and Lydian is dead. She now has the powers of the Stag and Soren is the Erlking. With visions of a chaotic world and Lydian's ghost taunting her with riddles, she now has a better understanding of why he was the way he was. Soon she realizes that their world is dying, and Lydian was the only one able to save it.

Goblin King is the second book in the Permafrost series, following The White Stag (read my review) Beginning a year after the close of the first book, it really helps to have read that one first. We know Lydian had tortured Janneke, that she's scarred and had been abused every which way by him before he "gifted" her to Soren. The mentions of it might otherwise be confusing for readers if they don't know that. Janneke and Soren are together, the Erlking and the Stag, but she doesn't know how to access or control the Stag powers. She has a tight-knit group of friends, and to her horror, they realized she was haunted by Lydian's ghost even when she didn't tell them and even Soren doesn't notice it. His riddles have to do with Ragnarok, and that he had been trying to prevent it from starting from the very beginning, albeit in his insane and sociopathic way.

As with the first book, Norse mythology and cosmology play a large role in this novel. We learn about it slowly, because of Janneke's difficulty accessing the power given to her, but then they're all on a quest to stop Ragnarok. It's dangerous because of course, it is, but none of them are willing to stand by and wait for death to come to them. This adventure takes them out of the Permafrost in order to save all the worlds of Yggdrasil, and preserve the World Tree from impending destruction. They have to work with Lydian, which none of them are thrilled about, and Janneke has to connect with the Stag powers.

We end the book with one problem solved and another created, kind of like how the first one did. I won't spoil what did happen over the course of the book, which made me tear through chapters in anticipation. The hook for a third novel is there, and I can't wait to read it.

Buy Goblin King at Amazon

Magic Dark and Strange by Kelly Powell

Magic Dark and Strange
October 2020; Margaret K. McElderry Books; 
978-1534466081; audio, ebook, print (208 pages)
dark fantasy
Catherine Daly is a printer during the day, but at night can wake the dead long enough to allow their loved ones to say goodbye. For every hour the dead are awake, however, she loses an hour from her own lifetime. She's charged with removing a timepiece from a grave, so she asks the watchmaker's son Guy Nolan for help. Instead of a clock, they find a boy who comes to life. The boy has no memory of his past, and there are dangerous enemies. Catherine and Guy must race to unravel the connection between the missing timepiece and the undead boy. The connection might be the difference between life and death for all of them.

Magic always has a cost, and it's fascinating that in this system it's blood and something intangible. Catherine pays an hour of her life, Guy and his father paid in memories. The boy becomes their responsibility and brings the two closer together. In true Regency and Victorian era times, they refer to each other formally, and calling each other by first name is an intimacy that very few are gifted with. The trio have to find the timepiece and figure out how it relates to Owen, the boy they found. The story is primarily a mystery, with a pinch of a budding romance between Catherine and Guy. Because the focus is on the mystery, the novel flies so quickly, I was stunned when I got to the end of the book. I wanted more to read!

Magic Dark and Strange is a fantastic book, and a great way to spend a weekend afternoon while bundled up with a blanket and a big mug of tea.

Buy Magic Dark and Strange at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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