BOOK & BLOG: May 20, 2024

by | May 20, 2024 | 2024, Blog Posts

  • Iron Flame, Rebecca Yarros
  • Death in the Spires, K.J. Charles
  • A Dreadful Splendor, B.R. Myers
  • The Book Keeper, Sarah Painter
  • The Old Woman with the Knife, Gu Byeong-Mo
  • The Atlas Six, Olivie Blake
  • What Waits in the Woods, Terri Parlato
  • Hell Bent, Leigh Bardugo
  • Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun, Elle Cosimano
  • Winter’s Gifts, Ben Aaronovitch


Iron Flame, Rebecca Yarros’ second Violet Sorrengail book is just as good as the first, and that’s saying quite a bit. Dragons, political struggles and secrets, a frail but absolutely determined protagonist and her very hot lover . . . well, you can’t go wrong, really.

K.J. Charles’ Death in the Spires is a mystery set mostly in Oxford (1905), where one student in a close-knit group was murdered ten years before. Since Jeremy Kites’ life has been ruined by the unresolved death of his friend, he becomes determined to solve the mystery. Jeremy begins contacting his former friends, including a former lover, and his life becomes more dangerous daily. Here’s the rhetorical question: Can Jeremy find the murderer before he himself falls victim?

A Dreadful Splendor, set in Victorian London, is about a fraudulent medium . . . and what happens when she’s hired to chair a séance during which Charles Pendleton hopes to uncover the murderer of his wife. Genevieve can either cooperate or go back to jail . . . but of course, she chooses to cooperate. She might be safer in jail.

Sarah Painter’s The Book Keeper, the second Unholy Island book, continues the story of Luke Taylor (who has come to the island to try to find his lost brother and is now the Book Seller) and Esme, who is the ward witch of the island and runs a guest house. Luke is getting acclimated to Unholy Island, but he’s still unnerved when someone sends him a hexed book, and he can’t get used to the idea that the bookshop can reveal new openings or deny him access. Sarah Painter is always a treat, and I’m enjoying this new series.

The Old Woman with the Knife is set in Korea. Hornclaw, who’s been an assassin most of her life, has learned to live without emotion. But as she ages out of her profession, and is challenged by a younger assassin, she remembers how she got to where she is . . . and strong emotions begin to blossom in her again, just when she needs to be her most ruthless. This book rang a lot of bells with this aging writer . . .

Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six is a complicated book in that it’s hard to pick who to root for. The Alexandrian Society recruits the best six magicians every year. Sweet! But not so sweet . . . they gradually realize that one of them must die. The ensuing complications are riveting as they become dependent on each other, and more powerful.

What Waits in the Woods is Terri Parlato’s new thriller, and it’s incredibly twisty and turny. Injured ballerina Esme Foster returns to her home town because she has nowhere else to go, and her brother clearly needs help taking care of their fading father. But coming back to Graybridge means returning to the scene of a long-ago crime, which has never been solved, and unearthing memories that are unsettling.

Hell Bent (the sequel to Leigh Bardugo’s fascinating Ninth House) is just as alive and fascinating as the first. Alex Stern is trying to rescue her colleague Darlington from hell, and she needs all the help she can get. You really need to read Ninth House first, but please do!

Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun is the third Finlay novel by Elle Cosimano, and the fourth is in my TBR stack. Bookcase. Yawning chasm. Finlay and her nanny are engaging characters who get through various adventures mostly by accident, a certain practicality, and setting priorities. Writer Finlay is one of my favorite fictional characters, and her attempt to write, take care of her children, and sort out her feelings about her ex, are absolutely relatable.

This was an all-female line up until I realized I hadn’t mentioned Ben Aaronovitch’s Winter Gifts. One of his secondary characters in the books set in London, FBI Agent Kimberly Reynolds, steps to the fore as she investigates a supernatural event in northern Wisconsin. A tornado has taken out half the town, and with it the man who had reported suspicious activity previously. Any book by Ben Aaronovitch is worth reading, and I hope you read all his books.


Here’s a news flash: my usual traveling companion and partner in crime, BFF Paula, fell in a spectacular way and broke her shoulder. Not to worry, she has a new one now, but she’s not able to travel with me for a while.

My online assistant, Sarah Simpson-Weiss, was able to help me out at Readers Take Denver last month. My daughter will accompany me to ThrillerFest in NYC on the 29th, where I have a pretty jam-packed schedule including a board meeting, two formal dinners, three panels, and (I hope) a productive meeting with my agent and my editor.

The week after, I’ll go solo to Killer Con in Wisconsin. Since that’s a learning con, with experts on all kinds of deathly subjects, I think I can manage my own time there. Here’s my basic problem: I can’t find my way out of a paper bag. And though with my new knees I can walk much more easily, airports are still a challenge.

So if you see a bespectacled granny who looks bewildered, steer me in the right direction!

–Charlaine Harris