May 10
2024

Library Journal starred review for Asunder

Asunder by Kerstin Hall

“The old gods are dead, and the new ones are horrific. Karys Eska is bound to a new god, and the price for her ability to speak to the dead is, on an unspecified day, to be snatched away to a realm of terrors. When she attempts to rescue a dying stranger from uncanny creatures, she accidentally merges Ferain with her shadow. If Eska learns how to free him, he’ll make her wealthy. But they soon discover that the creature attack didn’t happen by chance, and forces will pursue them across nations to ensure their deaths. Along the way, both learn that they can’t outrun their pasts, but maybe some parts are worth holding on to. Hall (Second Spear) weaves a fascinating tapestry of mythology and divine politics that she underscores with deep, complicated relationships. Nearly every character struggles with trust, unequal power dynamics, and the expectations of class and nation, despite also having an intense desire for connection. The novel’s charming interludes between deadly situations are few but powerful.

VERDICT This compelling mix of horror, found family, and intricate mythology will appeal to those who loved Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys and The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin.” — Library Journal, Starred Review

Apr 29
2022

Publishers Weekly on Second Spear

Second Spear by Kerstin Hall

“A shamed warrior becomes responsible for the salvation of all Mkalis’s realms when an old enemy returns for revenge in Hall’s exciting sequel to The Border Keeper. The many realms of Mkalis serve as an afterlife for residents of a world called Ahri. Warrior Tyn, of Res Lfae’s realm, has been suspended from her position as Second Spear and struggles to come to terms with the role she played in the battle with the goddess Kan Fanieq and the knowledge she’s gained about her past life. Determined to make amends, Tyn agrees to testify at the Tribunal of Kan Buyak, who will be tried for conspiring with Kan Fanieq to forge illegal God Instruments. Intrigues arise when Res Lfae’s realm is attacked. With the realm’s leader missing, it falls to Tyn; First Spear, Vehn; and Rion, the newest initiate of the Spears, to withstand the invasion. Though some ensuing plot twists feel shakily set up, each of the realms within Mkalis is richly imagined and unique, and Hall describes both the land’s chilling horrors and its lush wetlands in vivid detail as Tyn and her allies search for a weapon powerful enough to protect their home. The innovative worldbuilding is sure to enchant fantasy readers.” — Publishers Weekly

Feb 24
2022

Booklist starred review for Second Spear

Second Spear by Kerstin Hall

“The second book in Hall’s Mkalis Cycle will not disappoint readers of her standout fantasy The Border Keeper (2019). When readers reenter this rich, complex world of twisting godly politics and rule-based realms, Hall zooms them in on Tyn. She’s still recovering from the last book’s events, hurt and reeling, trying to balance new revelations with her loyalty to Res Lfae, ruler of Tahmais. When a lying villain with an impossible weapon comes to her realm to tear it apart, Tyn has to band together with the reticent First Spear Vehn, who hates her, and the cynical Rion, who’s still new to Mkalis and completely lost. All three characters go through convincing transformations in this eerie, suspenseful story based in Hall’s deeply unsettling world that gleams at the corners. The scenes are cinematically visceral, with pages soaked in sensory detail, atmosphere, and the tense promise of danger lurking at the edges of every rule-bound realm. Readers will feel they’re dropped into the story—and that will undoubtedly make their skin crawl, in all the right ways. This horror-fantasy will have readers waiting impatiently for the next volume in Hall’s dark series.” — Booklist, Starred Review

Feb 1
2022

2021 Locus Recommended Reading List

The 2021 Locus Recommended Reading List includes Elizabeth Bear, Kerstin Hall, and Martha Wells!

First Novels

Star Eater, Kerstin Hall (Tordotcom)

Novellas

A Blessing of Unicorns, Elizabeth Bear (Audible Originals 10/20; Asimov’s 9-10/21)
Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells (Tordotcom)

Novelettes

“The Red Mother”, Elizabeth Bear (Tor.com 6/23/21)

Aug 3
2021

Locus on Star Eater

Star Eater by Kerstin Hall

“This is an exquisitely gripping novel with a bloody, unflinching heart. And yet, for all the intricate brutalities of its worldbuilding, it holds out the hope of revolutionary change….The queerness of Star Eater rests as much in its unsqueamish examination of power relations and the meaty, bloody metaphor of its magical mechanics as in its normalising treatment of queer relationships and the sexualities of its major characters: it’s a novel with teeth, and it sets those teeth into a thematic argument about – an indictment of – the hereditary transmission and constant maintenance of power that comes from acts of, essentially, theft and consumption….It’s striking how full and complex Hall’s world is here, how invested with communities and meanings. Neither support for the Sisterhood nor opposition to it is an uncomplicated thing. Hall writes with striking, assured pose, bringing her world and characters vividly to life. Both in style and (thematic) substance, her work here reminds me of Max Gladstone’s Craft novels, of Aliette de Bodard’s novel-length fantasy work, of A.K. Larkwood’s blisteringly good debut The Unspoken Name. (Hardly surprising, then, to find both Gladstone and Larkwood have contributed advance praise.) Star Eater is a fantastic book. I recommend it highly.” — Locus

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