Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
Bloomsbury USA Childrens / Bloomsbury
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
To end the war with the adjoining kingdom and save her family, Shalia marries the rival king. However, her husband Calix is a cruel man with a deep hatred for the Elementae, people who can control one of the elements. Self-effacing Shalia must find the strength to stand by her convictions especially when she discovers she has the power to move the earth.
Shalia is a shy and unassuming young woman who finds herself in a situation for which she is not prepared. Not only does she have to learn to control a newly discovered power and protect her loving family, but she must also find the courage to deal with domestic violence. Shalia has a different type of strength; a quiet strength, an inner fire. You see her grow into this strong female character that might not be Katniss-strong, but is fierce all the same.
This one is for fans of high fantasy with dark, realistic themes embedded. Suggest this title to readers who enjoyed The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.
Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Wednesday Books / St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Every five years, the Riki descend from their mountain to the fjord to attack the Aska in an ancient blood feud to defend the honor of both clan’s gods. This year Eelyn, a fierce Aska warrior, fights to avenge the death of her brother and fighting mate, Iri, who died in the last battle. Then the impossible happens when Iri appears through the fog and saves Eelyn while fighting as a Riki warrior. Taken prisoner by the Riki when she follows Iri, Eleyn’s world forever changes as she gradually learns to see her enemy in a different light.
With richly detailed and immersive world-building, Young brings the harsh and unforgiving world as well as the ancient blood feud between enemy clans to life. Lush and beautiful descriptions of the frozen landscape stand in stark contrast to the vividly brutal battle scenes. Eelyn is well-developed as an unapologetically ferocious heroine who develops an understanding of and compassion for her enemy. Strong and complicated family relationships, both blood bound and soul bound, are authentically written while exploring what defines “family.” With present-day implications, the theme of releasing long-held prejudices to find common ground develops in a natural, nuanced way.
Hand this one to fans of Maas’s Throne of Glass series or the Vikings TV series. This one might not be for the squeamish, but for those who like their fantasy with sword, axe, and blood, then this one will definitely fill that need.
–Carol Maples and Lorrie Roussin