I assumed PAWN’S GAMBIT: The Pawn Strategem Book One by Darin Kennedy was urban fantasy, but the powers of the characters are actually closer to a superhero team: healer bishop, teleporting knight, Hulk-like rook and POV character Stephen, a pawn who can multiply himself into eight warriors. The premise is that eons ago, a group of wizards set up the game as away to resolve an ongoing cosmic conflict without outright war. Unfortunately the Black King has his own agenda, and whacking the white pieces before they’re chosen is the best way to get it done. Can Stephen find the rest of his side before it’s too late? I enjoyed this one, the only real flaw being the character of the Black Queen who plays the main opposition role here. In contrast to Steven and his team, who are well-developed, the queen’s just Hot and Evil.
SUPERNOVA: Heroes of Arcania Book One by Liz Long is unquestionably a superhero book . Teenage Nova has grown up invulnerable, but that doesn’t help when the calculating criminal Fortune murders Nova’s sister. Before long she’s prowling the city for Fortune and his crew, but Nova’s out of her league. Good thing two more “gifted” teens, Cal and Penny, have shown up in town. The superhero part of the book is good; even though having a murdered relative as motivation is cliche, the opening scene really works. A lot of the story, though, is taken up with the teen romance between Cal and Nova, and high school romance is not my thing, fictionally speaking (it can work, but it really has to be off-the-wall). YMMV obviously. A minor point is that I needed to know more about the Gifted, whom I gather were introduced in Long’s Donovan’s Circus series. Not that people having powers is that complicated a concept, but I couldn’t understand why Penny’s family are so convinced she’s going to the dark side.
#SFWApro. Cover by Roy Mauritsen, all rights to the image remain with current holder.