Brennan (the Memoirs of Lady Trent series) plays with the concept of secondary-world fantasy with this fresh, immersive introduction to the land of Driftwood, a patchwork world where other fantasy worlds come to die. As each otherworld is pulled toward the Crush, the churning center of Driftwood where their last vestiges mix and crumble before vanishing forever, its inhabitants must adapt to life in Driftwood or disappear along with their homes. The novel’s form mirrors the cobbled-together nature of its world, composed primarily of self-contained episodes unified only by the shadowy figure of Last, the sole survivor of a world that Driftwood consumed long ago. Many who pass through Driftwood seek Last’s aid, desperate to preserve their cultures and stop the inevitable and believing he knows the secrets to surviving the Crush. Brennan skillfully builds a multiplicity of worlds, painting each unique and fully developed culture with bold, minimalist strokes and, though readers don’t get to spend much time with any single character, rendering each member of the sprawling cast with impressive nuance and subtlety. Exploring found family, adaptation, and hope in the face of apocalypse, Brennan imbues this high-concept fantasy with a strong emotional core. Fantasy fans will be thrilled.
. . . I might have had some discussions with Jaymee Goh, my editor, about the relevance of the subject matter in the current political climate. That was before the pandemic got rolling. I wish it weren’t even more relevant now, but as pull quotes go, I’ll gladly own “hope in the face of apocalypse.”