"The gripping pursuit and protection of the love of a lifetime."– Kirkus Reviews
A death-defying Bolivian adventure in the primordial forest...starring a homeless teenager from Boston who just might be a shaman.
Sleeping late isn't an option in the jungle. By the time the sun is up, it's "already ricocheting with the calls of monkeys, parrots, frogs, all going at it molto vivace, shrieking and squawking as if the world were waking up in pain, the jungle giving birth to itself each morning." The setting of Ferencik's (The River at Night, 2017) second female-driven adventure thriller is hair-raisingly vivid, replete with tarantulas, piranhas, jaguars, and electric eels. We experience them all through the eyes of Lily Bushwold, 19, "a half-starved, high strung wild child who lived out of a backpack, homeless since [she] was thirteen." Lily thought she had landed a dream job in South America but arrived to find herself the victim of a scam; she's living on shoplifted bananas in Cochabamba when she meets Omar, a handsome hunter from a remote jungle village who has come to try his luck in the big city. He and Lily have already fallen in love when he learns that his 4-year-old nephew back home has been eaten by a jaguar; when he returns to seek revenge, Lily goes with him. What does she have to lose, right? She finds out pretty quickly during the most terrifying plane flight in recent literary history. After a near crash and a water landing, it's welcome to Ayachero—Omar's jungle home, where everybody except one little cross-eyed boy immediately hates the gringa. "A burnt-meat smell, the reek of stale water, and a stray sweet whiff of pig dung merged with a humid, breathless heat." Among the unwelcoming locals are two missionaries named Harriet and a female shaman named Beya, an outcast from a rival tribe who lives in the woods nearby. When Beya is able to save Lily from death by coaching her telepathically through an electric eel encounter, her next question is, "Are you the only shaman in Boston?" Even with the telepathy, Lily's experience feels almost real—then, in the final chapters, takes a wild turn into superhero territory.
The closest thing to an actual hell ride you'll ever experience (one hopes). Thrilling, bloody, and ferocious.
A gal-pal vacation goes over the falls and into hell.
“I folded my arms. Felt my friends’ eyes burning into me. My God, I thought—how old do you have to be to listen to your gut?” Older than food-magazine art director Wini Allen, apparently, because despite the clanging alarm bells in her head, this tired, sad woman joins her longtime best friends on an extreme whitewater rafting trip in Maine planned by their ringleader, an Amazonian sneaker marketer named Pia Zanderlee. Gathering once a year for a group vacation, the foursome is “bound by invisible golden thread the fifty-one weeks a year we were apart. Tied in a golden bow the week we spend together....Dysfunctional in our own female-friendship way; but our bonds were unbreakable.” Their adventure in Maine will be led by a studly college student named Rory who has “shoulder-length dreadlocks” and “eyes the exact green of an asparagus mousse we’d featured in our March issue.” This is his fifth time on the largely inaccessible and untraveled river. In fact, the names for its passages—Satan’s Staircase, Hungry Mother, The Tooth—were coined by Rory himself. Things get off to a tense start when Pia and Rory noisily hook up the first night, but in the morning there is “peach-colored light behind the mountains” and a thrilling run on the river during which even Wini believes in God. “Looking back, I equate this stage of enjoying the wilderness with the second glass of wine,” she muses, falling back on a more familiar frame of reference. “Everything is lighter; you can see the funny side of disaster. But things rarely improve with the third, they get dangerous with the fourth, and you better pray to God someone is around to scoop you off the floor after that.” Actually, it’s far, far worse than that analogy would imply; at a certain point Ferencik’s latest (Repeaters, 2011, etc.) takes a turn for the bloody and deranged.
The wilderness adventure part of this book is excellent; the heart-of-darkness horror movie in the third act less so. Still, you won’t put it down.
The petrifying tale of a chain of reincarnations that can only be broken by finding true love.
Kim is a blind college student who’s in a relationship with her biology teacher. When they get engaged, he urges Kim to contact her estranged mother, Astra, a psychiatrist who didn’t come back after leaving Kim at a school for the blind when she was 6 years old. For Astra, having a child was a failed attempt to feel love—the only way for a Repeater to conclude his or her string of lives. Finding herself incapable of the emotion, Astra abandoned Kim; but over a decade later, Astra finds the motivation to monstrously destroy her life as part of their grisly mother–daughter rivalry. The destruction bleeds into 16-year-old Lucy’s life as well; she’s a new patient who’s been having blackouts and flashbacks from another life. Lucy doesn’t yet understand that she, too, is a Repeater. With prose so poetic, it’s easy to forget this is a horror story: One evil action collides with the next as a cursed Repeater ruthlessly seeks the true love she hasn’t yet found in the hundreds of lives she remembers—love that would finally end her streak of reincarnations. More than a battle of good and evil, Ferencik’s (Cracks in the Foundation, 2008) story is rich with layers, well-developed characters, and moments of gruesomeness and tenderness. The loveless malice contrasts sharply with characters—some Repeaters, some not—who feel love so deeply that they seem to glow from it on the page.
The gripping pursuit and protection of the love of a lifetime.
In this wacky tale of heartache and heart, a down-on-her-luck veteran real estate agent discovers that the economy isn’t the only thing in the toilet.
Spirited Ginger Kanadoo loves her job but hates technology. When her boss (and brother) announces that the family real estate firm is going online—and introduces a slick new addition to the firm, Tandy Brickenhausen, who will take them on the cyber-journey—Ginger decides to show her brother that she can still get things done the old-fashioned way. Unfortunately, her only current listing is a nonfunctional outhouse. With an impending foreclosure on her own home to combat, a teenage daughter to raise and a troubling dependence on white zinfandel to overcome, Ginger has a lot on her plate. But she determines to succeed, regardless of the outrageous listings the residents of Squamskootnocket throw her way. Ginger is an older version of Bridget Jones, but instead of obsessing about her love life, she obsesses about her house sales. She continually puts herself out there and falls flat on her face. Though Ginger has all of the action, Ferencik (Repeaters, 2011, etc.) allows her protagonist’s daughter, Harvest, to be the emotional core of the story. Harvest may be a typical teen who slams doors and groans with embarrassment over her mother’s antics, but this bi-curious Wiccan also takes on much of the caretaker role in the family, even adhering to punishments when Ginger isn’t around to enforce them. The story zips along briskly—sometimes a tad too briskly—as Ginger attempts one harebrained scheme after another. But like Lucy and Ethel, she rarely learns from her mistakes. Ginger must stop depending on the kindness of strangers and learn to “Kanadoo” things on her own. Luckily for her, there are always kind strangers on hand.
If readers can overlook the improbable zaniness of Ginger’s life, they’re in for an entertaining, cotton-candy read.