Publishers Weekly –
The final volume of Maguire’s Wicked Years series finds Oz torn by war, and Shell Thropp, Elphaba’s brother, as emperor. Munchkinland has seceded, and the
invades with the Ozian army to get it back. Glinda, former Throne Minister, is held under house arrest by General Cherrystone, who takes an interest in Rain, Glinda’s broom girl, teaching her to read. He doesn’t know that Rain is actually Liir’s daughter and Elphaba’s granddaughter, and the only one who can understand the infamous Grimmerie, supposedly a volume of magical lore, coveted by Oz. A troupe of traveling players arrive and secretly give the Grimmerie to Glinda, who distracts the soldiers long enough to send Rain off with Brrr (aka the Cowardly Lion). So begins a quest for Rain to discover her true identity and unravel the layers of political and personal secrets that have caused strife and division in Oz. Maguire’s take on the trouble-prone Dorothy Gale is refreshing, and his Oz far darker, sadder, harsher, more complex, and convoluted than Baum’s (which will make this hard to follow for readers unfamiliar with the series). The language and imagery are rich, and the sense of love, loss, and regret palpable. For fans, this will be a revealing and satisfying end to the layered tale begun in Wicked. Emerald City
Pirate King by Laurie R. King
In a foreword, King, to her credit, acknowledges the implausibility of her 11th Mary Russell novel (after The God of the Hive) by having her heroine declare, "I fear that the credulity of many readers will be stretched to the breaking point by the case's intricate and, shall we say, colourful complexity of events." If anything, this is an understatement. In the fall of 1924, Sherlock Holmes, Mary's husband, uses the threat of an impending visit from his brother, Mycroft, with whom she's at odds, to persuade Mary to travel to Lisbon, where she's ostensibly to serve as a production assistant for "a film about a film about The Pirates of Penzance." In fact, she's on covert assignment for the British government to investigate the studio behind the new film, whose releases appear to coincide with an upsurge in criminal activity. Sherlockians must wait more than half the book for Holmes to put in a cameo in this action-heavy, deduction-light installment.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Kirkus Reviews -