Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce
We were dazzled by 2017’s debut fantasy by Curtis Craddock, An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (reviewed here at borg), and have eagerly awaited the sequel, A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery. It was worth the wait! No sophomore slump here—Craddock plunges us right back into the action, magic, and intrigue of the Risen Kingdoms, introducing new characters, sorceries, and subplots in a standalone adventure that is every bit as engrossing as the first book.
Returning father-daughter heroes Jean-Claude and Princess Isabelle find themselves once more adrift in scandal and conspiracy, this time hunting down (and fending off) shadowy murderers. While the Saintsborn nobles are losing their divine sorcery to a mysterious illness, the “Unhallowed” are suddenly turning up with magic of their own—often gone awry in grisly ways. The balance of power tips precariously, as Gran Leon, Emperor for decades, suffers the ravages of the plague.
As Jean-Claude hunts the pair behind the murders, known only as the Harvest King and the Bone Queen, Isabelle is courted by a handful of new figures, all with motives of their own. What does her long-lost sister really want? What about Gran Leon’s exiled, unmagical son? And what about her beguiling new bodyguard?
A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery is fantastic, a splendid return to an already-dazzlingly deep world. Craddock peels back more of the layers of The Risen Kingdoms, and it gets easier to find your footing in this richly imagined realm, even as he piles on still more details. You won’t find a better executed or more consuming fantasy novel this year, and Craddock has left the door for Book 3 wide open. We can’t wait!