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The Helm of Midnight

(The Five Penalties #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  32 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A legendary serial killer stalks the streets of a fantastical city in 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 wh
ebook, 464 pages
Expected publication: April 13th 2021 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
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ARC provided by the publisher—Tor Books—in exchange for an honest review.

4.5/5 stars

This is an incredible book. Character-driven and bloody thrilling; The Helm of Midnight has pretty much confirmed its spot in one of my favorite books of 2021 list.

I owe a thank you to Andrea Stewart, the author of The Bone Shard Daughter, for recommending this book to me. I was already intrigued by the eerie cover art illustrated by
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-shelf, fantasy
This was something of a surprise to me because I'm kind of a connoisseur of covers and with a title like that, I HAD to assume the novel was an epic fantasy with standard worldbuilding for such.

What it IS, however, is something more like a hybrid Jack-the-Ripper London in a unique fantasy with a Bujold-like 5 Gods setting mixed with a VERY cool external emotions-based magic system (at least early on). In other words, we have a heavy-population fantasy with lots of disparity between the rich and
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Helm of Midnight is an entertaining and suspenseful fantasy thriller. There’s more than enough cool, innovative ideas and surprising events that kept me coming back for more each night.

Connecting with some characters was a bit of an issue for me, but overall this is an exciting start to a new series that raises some interesting questions about legacy and currency, among other fresh angles that haven't been addressed in a lot of recent fantasy I've been reading.

The death masks leaving echoes
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a city of magic and masks, Regulators must keep the tightly-guarded peace, preserving the strict laws of the land. Not as easy as you might suspect when under regular attack by beastly varg and a killer recently returned from the dead. But De-Krona and De-Lia Hirvath, sisters by birth as well as by Regulator service, are more than capable of meeting their challenges head-on.

In The Helm of Midnight, we meet them as chaos is loosed upon a high-society gathering, resulting in the theft of the Ma
Chris Berko
This is a book of fantastic ideas populated by some memorable characters but the story lacked a sense of urgency and seemed kind of repetitive until about 85% in. The ending was fun, if abrupt, and left enough unanswered questions and dangling carrots hanging around to where I'm looking forward to see where the next installment goes.

One of my gripes, and I hardly ever say this as a lover of long books, is that this is too long. Two hundred pages easily could have been chopped out without losing
Tana 🌻 Cozyreadings

I got an e-arc!!!
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads

I loved this and I have been betrayed.

Full review soon! 4.5 stars rounded up to 5!
Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gripping, fantastical murder mystery with a deep emotional core. Absolutely splendid worldbuilding and characters. Very excited to read the further books in the series when they arrive.
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Helm of Midnight is the first book in a new fantasy trilogy. It centers around a heist, but from the law’s perspective. It mixes two fascinating forms of magic and throws you into a world where everyone is scared and no one really knows how their world works. The story starts with a bang. Krona and her crew are watching over a noble’s funeral when two highly protected pieces of magic get stolen right from under their noses. Now it’s up to Krona and her fellow regulators to find out why they ...more
Jan 12, 2021 marked it as arcs  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books for providing an ARC!
Brianna Donato
Such a great premise, but the pace dragged on. It was a slow read.
Dec 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC from netgalley.

The cover most definitely attracted me to this book and I thought it was going to be scary because of course it has a serial killer and also have fantastical elements but I was quite disappointed in that way that I usually am when a fantasy story focuses more on the characters than the plot.
The premise was very intriguing especially for someone who hails from a continent where masks are a huge part of various cultures.
Saying that I wasn't gripped by the story yes
Kate (BloggingwithDragons)
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you to Tor books for providing me with an ARC

The Helm of Midnight is a fascinating read, which effortlessly combines fantasy, murder mystery, and even horror. On top of the amazing blend of genres, I absolutely loved the concept of death masks, which preserve the talents of the deceased and allow the wearer of the mask to harness those tale
Ryan R
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My thanks to Netgalley for sending me a ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a tough review. The description of this book intrigued me, and I was glad to start reading it. However I must confess that at about 12% of the way through, I wanted to give up on it all together. The story just didn't grab me. That said, I decided to persevere, and i'm glad I did. This book has some very interesting concepts that I haven't come across in another fantasy book before. Also the magic s
Ashley Dang
A serial murderer on the loose and Krona and her fellow Regulators must stop the killer before things go wrong. The story takes place in a world where magic exists and there are artifacts that are embued with magic from the gods. Emotions are also regulated and its the job of regulators, who have jewels that contain emotions to maintain stability and peace. There is a masks that once belonged to a notorious serial killer, and now its on the loose again and the serial killings have started up aga ...more
Mackenzie Schley
Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes when I read a book, I just can’t decide right away how I feel about it and that happened with this one. The description grabbed me instantly, as it promised to blend two of my favorite genres: mystery and fantasy. However, now that I’ve had the combination, I’m not sure they quite go together. The slower pace required of proper world building doesn’t mesh all that well with the rather fas
Sara G
Fantasy police procedural. If that combination of genres piques your interest, you are going to greatly enjoy The Helm of Midnight, even if it doesn't do anything particular new with those genres. Krona is a sort of magic detective, working under the command of her sister Lia. An assignment to protect some enchanted items goes awry and soon she is on the case to discover why men are disguised as spiny mist werewolves, how an enchanted healer's mask has gone inert, and, most importantly, the loca ...more
Rebecca Whaley
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good book! Action, suspense, and magical objects! Absolutely awesome! The main character, Krona is great! She kicks butt and takes names. The creatures in this book are downright scary. The beginning opens with a bang and it doesn't let up. An adrenaline rush for sure! I absolutely loved this! I can't wait for more by this author! ...more
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one's a bit of crime procedural mixed with sci-fi world building, with a healthy dose of "identity sensitivity" that seems forced---there's almost too much packed in to do it all well. I loved the relationship between the two sisters, and their role as competent, strong and fierce protectors, and wish the author had spent more time building out their characters and their relationships. ...more
Very interesting book ..
Emma Reid
There was a lot going on in this book - an incredible magic system, a Jack the Ripper style murder mystery, flashbacks all over the place... and it got to be a bit much. This was well-written, but was bogged down with unexplained details in the worldbuilding. The characters were compelling enough, but they weren't featured much. We spent most of our time in Krona's head and delving into her psyche. Overall it's a good fantasy, but I felt like it needed a little more paring down.

*Thank you to Net
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Andrea Stewart
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Jan 06, 2021
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Jennifer Chen
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Mar 02, 2021
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