A fantastical game of political intrigue played by a fraud, where the grumpy snark of K. S. Villoso’s The Wolf of Oren-Yaro meets a rich Eastern European–inflected world akin to Ava Reid’s The Wolf and the Woodsman.
A plucky, sardonic con artist must “prophesize” her way out of peril— discovering along the way that the keys to power and politics are nothing more than the stories that we can sell as truth.
Kalyna’s family has the Gift: the ability to see the future. For generations, they traveled the four kingdoms of the Tetrarchia selling their services as soothsayers. Every child of their family is born with this Gift—everyone except Kalyna.
So far, Kalyna has used informants and trickery to falsify prophecies for coin, scrounging together a living for her deteriorating father and cruel grandmother. But Kalyna’s reputation for prophecy precedes her, and poverty turns to danger when she is pressed into service by the spymaster to Rotfelsen.
Kalyna is to use her “Gift” to uncover threats against Rotfelsen’s king, her family held hostage to ensure her good behavior. But politics are devious; the king’s enemies abound, and Kalyna’s skills for investigation and deception are tested to the limit. Worse, the conspiracy she uncovers points to a larger threat, not only to Rotfelsen but to the Tetrarchia itself.
Kalyna is determined to protect her family and newfound friends, but as she is drawn deeper into palace intrigue, she can no longer tell if her manipulations are helping prevent the Tetrarchia’s destruction—or if her lies will bring about its prophesized downfall.
Elijah Kinch Spector is a writer, a dandy, and a rootless cosmopolitan from the Bay Area who now lives in Brooklyn. His first novel, Kalyna the Soothsayer, received acclaim from NPR, Nerds of a Feather, Tor.com, Foreword, and Paste Magazine, among others. His next novel, Kalyna the Cutthroat, is expected in 2024.
“[D]elightful debut fantasy adventure. . . . [P]ut your trust in Kalyna's hands and let her build a story around the two of you. Parts of it will speak to your own specific fears and desires; other aspects will be entertaining fictions, until you discover the devastating shard of truth within.” —NPR
“The intricate worldbuilding includes intriguing court politics and nefarious plotting galore. [Kalyna] is both a witty and a determined heroine. . . . A fabulous puzzle box of a fantasy novel.” —Foreword Reviews
“A well-crafted world . . . Kalyna narrates her story with appealing wit while not shying away from her insecurities. For those who enjoyed S. A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass or Tasha Suri’s Empire of Sand.” —Booklist
“[A] brilliantly constructed character, endlessly multilayered and relatably conflicted, with a scarred interior that nonetheless perseveres by sheer survival instinct. Kalyna's inner monologue is a delicious parade of sharp political commentary, pragmatic callousness, reluctant hope, internalized self-loathing, wounded desire, the driest sense of gallows humor, and a drive to independence made of the hardest bedrock.... Engrossing.” —Nerds of a Feather.com
“I have never felt so seen. . . . Kalyna finds power in her ‘otherness’ [as] an often-hilarious wandering soothsayer trying to keep her family together in the face of those that would hurt them.”—Bookishly Jewish
“Kalyna is a character after my own heart: a conniving liar whose love for her family threatens to be her downfall. Hilarious and heartbreaking by turns, Kalyna the Soothsayer is a reminder that if you can't see the future you want, sometimes you have to make it.” —C. L. Clark, author of The Unbroken
“A gorgeous, layered debut, both intricate and propulsive, with a singularly brilliant heroine at its center. Kalyna is a twisty, entrancing, and totally unique entry into epic fantasy.” —Ava Reid, author of The Wolf and the Woodsman
“Full of hilarious wit, intrigue, spycraft and charlatans, Kalyna the Soothsayer is a classic adventure with a sardonic twist. At the turn of the last page, I was sad to leave these lovable rogues. I've been waiting a long time to read an intelligent swashbuckling story like this. . . . It's the perfect fantastical escape.” —Marissa Levien, author of The World Gives Way
“Kalyna the Soothsayer is dangerously good: a spellbinding story, captivatingly told, with a cast of unforgettable characters and plot twists that kept me turning pages past my bedtime.” —Melissa Caruso, author of The Obsidian Tower