Nevill's talent for horror resonates ominously in every scene, almost as if the theme from Jaws echoes when a page is turned.

THE HOUSE OF SMALL SHADOWS

British horror author Nevill (Last Days, 2013, etc.) goes hard-core modern gothic when he sends a fragile woman to a derelict estate filled with bizarre treasures.

Catherine Howard is a "valuer," an antique dealer’s appraiser. She’s been dispatched to Red House, "a perfectly preserved Gothic Revival house" near the English village of Magbar Wood, which she’s doomed to learn is a "mausoleum that honored loss and madness." The house is crammed with the work of M. H. Mason, a recluse who turned taxidermy into art. Mason's dioramas are "a window into hell," each displaying stuffed rats arranged as soldiers mired in the trenches of World War I. More grotesque, there’s a bedroom crammed with part-human, part-animal marionettes. Edith, Mason’s 90-something niece and only survivor, tells Catherine that Mason returned from WWI missing part of his skull and shut himself away, believing all humanity to be "vermin." Catherine’s back story weaves through the tale, "her memories all waiting in Technicolor with an audio track." She was adopted and raised near an abandoned school where disabled children were deposited. Her village was plagued by kidnappings, one being that of her closest friend. That tragedy sent Catherine into an emotional spiral, and brittleness plagued her early adult life, which was troubled by bullies, deceptions and failed romances. Nevill's setting and pacing are dead-on, and minor characters, like stumpy silent Maude, Edith’s housekeeper, are perfectly creepy. At first blush, Catherine believes Red House’s glories will make her professional reputation. Then come revelations of Mason’s wicked homages to The Martyrs of Rod and String, an ancient marionette morality play with a history that includes the public lynching of itinerant entertainers. Add Catherine’s desertion by her latest boyfriend and the appearance of her London nemesis, and the tale slithers toward a surreal denouement that installs new guardians at Red House.

Nevill's talent for horror resonates ominously in every scene, almost as if the theme from Jaws echoes when a page is turned.

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04127-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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