The Helm of Midnight

Tor. (Five Penalties, Bk. 1). Apr. 2021. 464p. ISBN 9781250757050. $26.99. FANTASY
Lostetter (Noumenon) makes her fantasy debut with this title. In book one of a three-part series, we are introduced to Krona, a soldier in a Europe-coded world, who is present when an exhibition opening is raided and a valuable artifact of terrible power is stolen—it’s the death mask of Louis Charbon (a notorious long-dead serial killer). Now Krona is caught up in the search for a gruesome new murderer, who dissects his victims ruthlessly, then arranges their mangled bodies into disturbingly beautiful flower forms—killings in the style of Charbon, who had created an art form known as “Death Is Art.” Krona enlists the aid of Thibaut (part-ally, part–aristocratic pain in the ass) in the search for the killer, who is always elusively just out of reach.
VERDICT This tale has creative worldbuilding and an intense focus on the psychology of a killer. Its unresolved ending will leave readers either frustrated or eager to tackle the next installment in the series.
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