Bearly Gold was selected as a Booklife (by Publishers Weekly) Editor's Pick.
Jones (Forever Yours) delivers a clever and electrifying adventure on an alternate Earth alive with shapeshifters and volatile politics. A civil war has trapped bear shifter Dr. Teresa Pérez-Soto and her clinic filled with human, bear, and elephant shifter orphans. Fayola, an ultra dangerous impundulu—a large bird shifting telepath who drinks blood—is on a mission from her government, The United Wake of Benekal, to extract the doctor from the war zone but not the children. Successfully completing this last mission will free Fayola from her mandatory military service and allow her to return to her beloved father. Always stalwart, this time she shows empathy when human child Jwahir calls her “Dela Eden,” her savior, and Fayola risks everything to transport the children to safety.
Adhering to her mantra, “The better a soldier I become, the easier the missions will be, and the quicker I’ll be able to return home,” Fayola is an imposing figure in her human form and nearly indestructible in her bird form, with huge wings, a beak that can penetrate elephant hide, and the ability to generate golden lightning. At the start Jones focuses on developing the strong female characters and the intricate world building, though the plot accelerates when The Wake’s leaders, intrigued by Fayola’s empathy and negotiating skills, choose not to court martial her. Instead, she’s assigned to the new Criminal Exploitation Unit to save children in trouble. These include Jwahir, who sends word that her adoptive bear shifter father is abusing her.
Jones masterfully constructs an original world of extraordinary shapeshifters, a militaristic society, a rich political environment, and a mission to combat human trafficking. With a nod to the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jones sets a diverse cast in an immersive, compelling world in a story that evokes loyalty and the desire to do good. Readers will find this a winner.
Takeaway: Science fiction fans will embrace the strong female lead and unique shapeshifters in this adventure with a heart.
Great for fans of: Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child, Robert McCammon’s The Wolf’s Hour.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A