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The Helm of Midnight, by Marina Lostetter

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Sometimes I wear a family ring I inherited from my dad on a chain around my neck when I want to feel close to him, and I think Marina Lostetter understands having that kind of relationship with jewelry, because The Helm of Midnight is absolutely full of emotion-imbued magical gemstones. Each broach or bracelet or embellishment of clothing can influence the wearer’s internal state. As you might expect, this is not always used for the kind of sweetness I have in my family heirloom. Sometimes–this is not a book where everyone is perpetually wallowing in misery despite the dark title. But not always.

This is the first of a series, and it features three closely interwoven timelines at most ten years apart–so you get to see characters in the “present” in their earlier incarnations, from their own points of view, and wonder at what could have gotten them from one point to another. Which magics, which betrayals, which death masks, which gods.

While there’s a sequel (coming soon! and its review here likewise!), the climax of this book is very climactic indeed, pulling together characters and plot threads in a thoughtful way. If you’re the kind of fantasy nerd who likes taxonomies and monstrous beasts and family relationships of various shapes, this will probably be your jam. I expect to have fun with the next one as well.

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