When I picked up The Helm of Midnight I didn’t know much about it; I thought ‘dark fantasy? murder mystery? sounds good!’. This book blew away my expectations. It’s filled with a detailed, dark world, an interesting magic system, ominous secrets, in-depth worldbuilding, and engaging characters. The Helm of Magic is exactly the type of fantasy I’m desperate to see more of.
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.
In this world, masks can be imbued with the talents of the dead. Do you want the ability to tell if someone is lying? Well, there’s a mask you can wear of someone who had that gift. Sure, if you wear a mask too difficult to handle it might try and overwhelm you, but that’s a risk you’ll have to take.
The mask of serial killer Louis Charbon is a deadly and terrible artefact; one that no one is allowed to wear. So when a heist steals the mask right under the nose of Krona Hivarth, it’s up to her and her fellow Regulators to track it down. Meanwhile, murders start occurring, using the particular skill Charbon had in mutilation.
From the very first pages, I knew I was going to adore this book. Evil magic, terrible creatures, strange mysteries. Look, I’m an absolute sucker for forbidden knowledge, and this book is jam-packed full of it. The journey the characters went on was compelling, but the worldbuilding was what drew my attention. This is one of those books where secrets slowly unravel, but not enough, not enough to satisfy you, only to leave you desperately wanting more. I need the next book now, thank you.
Although the world was my highlight, the characters were also fantastic. Krona is a delight to read about, and especially her relationship with a particular rogueish troublemaker. She’s an incredibly well-rounded character, with fears and history that truly impact her. I also loved her bond with her sister and how well she propelled the story onwards. There are a couple of other PoV characters in here too – all of which were compelling. I particularly enjoyed being able to learn the history of Louis Charbon, the notorious killer, himself.
I want to shout about every detail of this book, but I don’t want to spoil it. You should know this isn’t just a book about criminals and serial killers; it goes a lot deeper. Perhaps, even deep enough to change the world itself. I mean, what’s the point in a strict magic system if you don’t tear it apart in every possible way?
I recommend The Helm of Midnight to all of you who prefer their fantasy detailed and relatively slow-paced, who love to unravel mysteries and learn about brand-new worlds. I’m going to be shouting about this book from the rooftops for a long time.
CW: graphic violence, death, murder, family death, infanticide, body horror, medical procedures.
(Thanks to Tor books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)
The open skies and dense forests of the Pacific Northwest are ideal for growing speculative fiction authors–or, at least, Marina would like to think so. Originally from Oregon, she now resides in Arkansas with her spouse, Alex. In her spare time she enjoys globetrotting, board games, and all things art-related. Her original short fiction has appeared in venues such as Lightspeed, Uncanny, and Shimmer Magazine. Her debut novel, NOUMENON, and its sequels, NOUMENON INFINITY and NOUMENON ULTRA, are available from Harper Voyager. Her first fantasy novel, THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, is forthcoming from Tor. In addition, she has written tie-in materials for Star Citizen and the Aliens franchise. She is represented by DongWon Song of the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, and she tweets as @MarinaLostetter.
Get this book
The Helm of Midnight releases today, so there’s never been a better time to pick up a copy!
You can order the book from major retail sites including Blackwell’s.
I’d recommend checking out your local indie bookshop!