Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

I found this to be a very satisfying ending to His Fair Assassins series by Robin Lafevers.  Annith is a fully fleshed out.  As she deals with the frustration of not being called to serve Mortain as an Mortal Heart by Robin Levers
assassin in the way that her friends/sisters, Ismae and Sybella have, we identify with the unfairness of the situation.  Of course it turns out to be a lot more complicated than Annith had imagined as the Abbess and others turn out to be not who she had thought.  I especially liked that the historical nature of the book, the war between Brittany and France, seemed to be more prominent in this book, though I found some of the play between the pagan elements and Christianity somewhat awkward. An exciting ending to a wonderful series about assassin nuns!

The Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale

You cannot be a conqueror and a protector.”

Marlin, incapacitated by a terrible stutter, lives with his father and brother in an exotic, luxurious resort and zoo, the Zoo at the Edge of the World, in British Guiana at the end of the 19th century. Here he feeds the animals and cleans their cages anzoo at the edge of the worldd spends time with his tamarind monkey, Kenji.  Marlin can talk to Kenji and to the other animals when alone with them.  This is a place, where the wealthy and aristocracy can come to be enthralled by wild animals while being comfortably safe.   As the story begins, everyone on the resort is awaiting a new group of tourists with a “Greeting Day” with plans to add a circus to the zoo, which is built on an ancient pyramid, as the centerpiece of their guests’ experience.  But as warned by one of the former Tribesmen, Nathtam Leent, the Sky Shrine, was holy and sacred to the Tribes, and thus no good could come from building a circus there.

Marlin’s father, Ronan Rackham, having come to Guiana to map its inland jungles and to discover new species of animals,  has lost his good intentions somewhere along the way and became filled with pride and greed. Because of his stutter, Marlin can barely communicate with humans but does have special powers to speak with animals, but this puts him in the middle, with a terrible choice to make. A startling book with an intense struggle at the end, The Zoo at the Edge of the World explores issues of animal captivity and animal protection as well as how to be the son of a very flawed man.  Though filled with magical realism, the animals are not anthropomorphized, but retain their animal natures.

The Zoo at the Edge of the World raises a lot of issues about environmental ethics and would be great for a book discussion.