Review copy provided by the author, who is a personal friend and shares an agent with me.
There is a lot of very serious fantasy out there right now, and I love much of it. Taking on the hard-hitting, gigantic questions is part of what genre literature does best. And yet. And yet sometimes I want a book that touches on those big questions but with a lighter hand. Lord of Secrets is one of those books.
For me it has a feel of all the best of the fun fantasy adventure I grew up with, without any of the parts that make us cringe now. Gray is a wry and dogged hero, Brix is a tart-tongued and able heroine, and the other characters are individually and vividly drawn. They cast spells with a painful, even poisonous, rune-based magic, consuming human lives a bit at a time. Gray is focused on saving his grandfather–a quest that I could hardly find more relatable–and Brix has her own concerns that unfold with the rest of the story. Each character has their own motivations, often getting in the way of the others to frustrating effect. (Frustrating for them. All too compelling for me.)
I got this copy of Lord of Secrets when I was down for the count with a bad cold. It was a lovely way to distract myself for those hours and kept me guessing to the end.