Books by Brian Keaney

ADVENTURE
Released: Nov. 10, 2009

Coincidence, magic, angels, demons and flat characters muddle through the third and final volume of this series. The disparate elements of the first two novels come together: Odyllic Force is the Sleeping Giant of mythology and might be able to stop Dr. Sigmundus, who wants to end the world by building a bridge from hell (Nakara) to the Resurrection Fields, where the dead joyfully move on. Dante segues from central to secondary character (he is disembodied and stuck in a bird) while Bea takes over as primary mover (helped considerably by running into her physician father). Thinly sketched characters and continually murky world building, sentences that tell without humor or style and entire sections (Nyro and Osman's journey) that have no discernible bearing on the remainder of the story make this slow going. Readers who persevered through the second volume will be pleased to have pieces come together even if the literal deus ex machina renders any prior investment moot. Keaney displays some interesting if bleak ideas; it's to be hoped that next time he can do them justice. (Fantasy. 12-16)Read full book review >
FICTION
Released: Dec. 9, 2008

After a promising opening volume (dystopic government, plucky teens, rebellion), Keaney switches gears with volume two, which features angels and demon-like possession and sadly lacks any character or world development. Dante and Bea, separated and captured at the end of the trilogy opener, journey back to the rebels in order to continue the fight and to set the scene for the final book. The story lurches forward by means of awkward contrivances: A plane with a dead pilot appears just when escape is necessary; secondary characters are all willing to help Dante or Bea for no discernible reason; Dante suddenly has a guardian angel to give answers and push his understanding of Odyllic Force. Oh, and Dante has a twin brother (surprise!) who falls afoul of one of Dr. Sigmundus's experiments and becomes a wolf-like creature able to track Bea and ravage the Púca. Indeed, Dante's brother and guardian angel are all that propel the story. Muddled, confusing and poorly paced, with a shocker ending, this might sate fans of the first volume but won't win new ones. (Fantasy. 12-16)Read full book review >
FICTION
Released: Sept. 25, 2007

Dystopia and allusions to The Divine Comedy make for a heady combination, but much of this first-in-a-trilogy fails to go beyond setup. Dante and Bea were raised on the asylum island of Tarnagar in a world where everyone must follow the teachings of the mysterious Dr. Sigmundus. Tarnagar houses those not controlled by Ichor. When a mysterious new prisoner arrives who knew Dante's inmate mother, Dante learns she was a leader of the rebels who fight against Sigmundus's totalitarian regime and he, along with privileged Bea, escape Tarnagar to join them. The final third of the novel really gets going: The rebels, Dante's experiments with Odyllic force (a mysterious power that can reshape reality) and a confrontation with Dr. Sigmundus keep the pace brisk. Keaney's style—simple, sometimes terse sentence structure, more telling than showing—make for a fast if occasionally pedestrian read. Those who enjoy books like The Giver or the Uglies trilogy will want to give this a try, and will be drawn into the world enough to wait for the action despite some inconsistencies of time line and backstory. (author's note) (Fantasy. YA) Read full book review >
JACOB’S LADDER by Brian Keaney
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2007

This adventure starts off strong but dwindles to didactic metaphor. When Jacob wakes in a field, he has no idea where he is or why he's there. All he remembers is that his name is Jacob, and he wants to be back with his...what were those people called who took care of him, again? Oh, right, parents. Instead, he's in a flavorless, gray place called Locus, surrounded by hundreds of other boys and girls who can't remember where they come from. Together, the children wear gray uniforms, eat gray and spongy food, live in gray dormitories and spend all day moving rocks from one field to another. Most of the children have accepted their fates, but not Jacob. Along with two friends, he determines to escape. Sadly, it's here that the intriguing tale breaks down into an oversimplified Pilgrim's Progress. The children encounter a series of lessons delivered by biblically and mythically named characters, all with the goal of teaching them to place a higher value on life. Read The Giver instead. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >