An engrossing and finely detailed Viking story.

UNAMAKIK, LAND OF FOG

This second installment of a historical fiction series continues the saga of a Viking woman in North America.

In the late 10th century, Thora Thorvinnsdottir, a Norse settler of Greenland, finds herself stranded on the shores of Westland. Her estranged husband, Ivar Ulfson, and his crew abandoned her during an attack by the natives, leaving Thora alone with only an injured Westlander captive named Elkimu as well as two horses and a dog. Through the winter, Thora catches fish and birds to sustain them, wondering—with some chagrin—why the attractive Elkimu has not made any sexual advances. They hope to build a skin boat from seal hides in order to make it to the man’s Westland home, the island of Unamakik, before they are discovered by the Cliff Dwellers—a rival clan led by Elkimu’s disgraced uncle, Taqtaloq. The unusual pair reaches Elkimu’s island home, and his people welcome Thora into their community. After learning their ways, she formally becomes Elkimu’s wife. Thora finally has something like the life she imagined when she left her native Iceland. But when Norsemen again appear along the shores of Westland, the past returns to haunt Thora in unwanted ways. In this sequel to The Sun Road (2014), Kamminga’s prose is rich and balanced, selling not only the remote setting, but also Thora’s experiences in Westland: “Apikji, the mouse boy, was straining to pull a toboggan loaded with sap-filled containers to the steaming log cauldron by the stream. Behind him came Amu’s sons who had been checking their snares, each dangling a frozen pair of snared snowshoe hares by the hind legs.” The novel manages to work within the realm of the historical while retaining the mystical worldview of its characters and concocting a few turns that readers will not expect. The experience of seeing a re-creation of North American life around the turn of the first millennium is alone worth the price of admission, and the love story between the two unlikely spouses provides a satisfying conclusion to Thora’s difficult tale. Unlike many of the other Norse, who seek to profit from the resources of these new lands, Thora is a recognizable archetype of that more idealistic sort of migrant: the one who is simply looking for a place to belong.

An engrossing and finely detailed Viking story.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5255-7708-6

Page Count: 175

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Fast, furious Clancy fare, fun even though you already know who wins.

TOM CLANCY TARGET ACQUIRED

Bentley keeps Jack Ryan Jr.’s life exciting in this latest grand-scale Tom Clancy adventure.

Ryan is in Tel Aviv on an “asset-validation exercise” for a private company referred to as The Campus, and he takes time to hang out at the beach. There, he sees a woman with a child who he can tell is autistic, and he saves her from a knife-wielding attacker. She’s flummoxed; who’d want to hurt her? When mother and son leave, Ryan wants to return the boy’s dropped Captain America toy. “What could go wrong with that?” he muses naïvely. Only three hell-raising threats in one day. Almost immediately he meets agents from Israeli security, Shin Bet. Who is he? What’s he doing there? But though he doesn’t lie about his name, no one ever exclaims, “Wow, you have the same name as the U.S. president. Any connection?” Anyway, Chinese State Security is also interested in the woman, and Jack doesn’t know why. And then mother and son are kidnapped. True to the Clancy style, what begins as the attempted return of a toy mushrooms into a threat of global conflict—“no good deed goes unpunished” is an apt cliché. Other enemies include Iran's Quds Force, an apocalyptic cult—and some smart jihadis, because “the dumb jihadis died a long time ago.” Ryan is a fierce warrior when the need arises, and he refuses a direct order to return to the U.S.: “Sorry, sir…no can do. I’ve got two innocents still at risk—a mother and child.” So even when the bad guys try to crucify him, “nobody did cornered junkyard dog better than Jack.” Meanwhile, an airborne threat may destroy Tel Aviv. The story has some nice wordplay, with helicopters “clawing for altitude like homesick angels,” and the F-35 being “part ballerina, part racehorse, and all killer.” While on the ground “blood flowed and bones broke,” and a female fighter jock has the final say.

Fast, furious Clancy fare, fun even though you already know who wins.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18813-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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