The Helm of Midnight by Marina Lostetter

The Helm of Midnight by Marina Lostetter

Marina Lostetter‘s dark fantasy debut commingles humanity, gods, and monsters. The Helm of Midnight is a thrilling grimdark mystery ripe with questions of morality. Thank you Alexis Saarela from Tor for the ARC!

About the Book
Series: The Five Penalties #1Genre: Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Thriller, Horror
Date of Publishing: April 13, 2021Trigger Warnings: Infanticidade, murder, gore, flailing,
Page count: 464Publisher: Tor
Book Blurb
Covr for The Helm of Midnight

A legendary serial killer stalks the streets of a fantastical city in The Helm of Midnight, the stunning first novel in a new trilogy from acclaimed author Marina Lostetter.

In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power–the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city with a series of gruesome murders.

Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question.

It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake.

Quote of the Book

“When people die,” she said, “all we have are tokens. All they leave are echoes.”

Song of the Book

Review

In Marina Lostetter’s epic fantasy debut, the heist of a mask posthumously imbued with the soul of a serial killer rekindles a series of gruesome murders. Sisters Krona and De-Lia, Regulators of the city-state of Lutador, must fight against time to stop the incoming bloodshed, while dealing with personal demons of their own.

The Helm of Midnight dives into the heart of what makes us, or doesn’t, human, putting relationships, blood, justice, and ancient magic at the forefront of its mystery.

I love me a good mystery and lately I’ve been really getting into crime fantasy (if that’s not a genre of its own yet, I demand we coin it right now). I’ve seen it show up more and more recently, and I feel like it perfectly caters to my disturbing interest in both magic and murder mysteries.

Part horror, part dark fantasy, The Helm of Midnight combines the best of fantasy fiction—detailed lore, unique magic system and mythology, quests of self— with the heart-pounding anticipation of a thriller filled with monsters of every kind.

It’s hard to put down a mystery that unravels like this; even as it reveals pieces of the puzzle, there is always that elusive sunuvabitch you have to chase under the sofa (how did it get there, you don’t even realize). It kept me hooked from the first page to the last, because as the mystery heightens so does the worldbuilding.

One’s time becomes currency in service of the state, masks can store the echo of a person after their death (essentially preserving their knowledge and experience like amber) and artifacts enchanted with emotions can suffuse the wearer with courage, lust, fortitude. In many ways, this is a story of time; both in its multi-pov time-skipping narrative, its thematics, and the fantastic creation myth that sneaks its way into the story. 

Humanity, gods, and monsters commingle in a thrilling mystery that will call to lovers of grimdark with shocking gore and questions of morality.

Our Judgement
Praise Their Name - 5 crowns

She was very young the first time her parents put a book in her hands (most likely an inventive way to shut her up and keep her still) and have not found it in her to stop reading since. Oral tradition has a special place in her heart—it was due to her grandparents' speech storytelling that her love for languages and stories was ignited, and so she has grown to love fantasy and sci-fi above all, as genres particularly influenced by folktales.

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