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THE DARKENING DREAM

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Vampires run rampant in Gavin’s debut supernatural thriller.

Teenager Sarah Englemann finds her life in 1913 Salem, Mass., turned upside down with the murder of a classmate—and his reappearance as a feral vampire. Drawn into an underworld of the occult, Sarah, with the help of her friends and a new classmate (a mysterious Greek named Alexandros Palaogos), must confront the forces of darkness in their town. These forces include Parris, a local pastor who is secretly a warlock, and an ancient, mysterious demon named Al-Nasir—together they search for Gabriel’s Horn, an instrument designed to bring about the end of the world. The teenagers struggle to stop their enemies in time, and they try to understand Sarah’s mysterious connection to Gabriel’s Horn. Before Sarah’s battle against the forces of darkness is over, there will be blood spilled, questions asked over who can actually be trusted, trips taken to other dimensions and all will be touched by tragedy. Gavin struggles early in the book, relying on awkward analogies that distract from the narrative flow, and veers into unnecessary explanations of the story’s events. But he finds his footing and these rough spots quickly even out as the author’s prose becomes clear and he gleefully transforms a story of teenagers battling vampires into something much more. The story turns into a mash-up of Greco-Roman mythology, Judeo-Christian imagery and the occult, making it a fresh take on the overdone vampire genre. Gavin’s writing also hints at a wonderfully twisted sense of humor, notable in one early scene with the beheading of a vampire that quickly turns comical as the young protagonists add “vampire killing” to the already stressful load of puberty. The action throughout is fast-paced and compelling, and the ending hits the right note, a brutal turn of events that strongly hints at a sequel—an enticing prospect. A vampire novel with actual bite.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1937945008

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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