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Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Helm of Midnight (The Five Penalties, #1)The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Lostetter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was something of a surprise to me because I'm kind of a connoisseur of covers and with a title like that, I HAD to assume the novel was an epic fantasy with standard worldbuilding for such.

What it IS, however, is something more like a hybrid Jack-the-Ripper London in a unique fantasy with a Bujold-like 5 Gods setting mixed with a VERY cool external emotions-based magic system (at least early on). In other words, we have a heavy-population fantasy with lots of disparity between the rich and the poor, monsters in the streets, and heist-like action that goes a bit deeper. I'm also reminded of Foundryside as I read it.

It is, after all, a novel about rather unique ghosts that remind me of cyberpunk fare, magic masks, medical expertise, and a convoluted con game that only touches on a steampunk theme while doubling down on its own thing.

In other words, it's quite good. The characters are also pretty memorable, too, although there might have been a little too much meandering. The core fears and hopes were pretty standard and convincing and definitely swum around the main plot in a cool way.

I'm looking forward to continuing this pretty vast tapestry of a world. :)

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