A magnificent supernatural saga striding confidently toward its finale.

THE CITIES OF DEAD

From the Casquette Girls series , Vol. 3

This third installment of a YA series brings a superlative menace to New Orleans that may require vampires and witches to join forces.

Eight months ago, a monstrous hurricane demolished New Orleans. Sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne, despite the witch mark on her arm, has seemingly lost her telekinetic powers. Her coven, including friends Désirée Borges and Isaac Thompson, battled the Medici vampires. Isaac slayed Adele’s undead mother, Brigitte, to save the teenager’s life. Now, Adele has withdrawn from her coven and existence in general. Only when Niccoló, the Medici sibling who’ll do anything for Adele, throws her mother a funeral does the teen reawaken to the world. Meanwhile, Isaac, Désirée, and their friend Codi Daure have been tracking down those possessed by the rogue spirits disturbed by Callisto Salazar and his Ghost Drinkers coven. The trio also strives to protect the city’s numerous cemeteries from Calli’s succubi by using hexenspiegel (witches’ mirrors). Eventually, Adele warms to Nicco’s charm, allowing him to begin exploring ways to restore her magic despite the warning written by her ancestor Adeline Saint-Germaine 300 years ago: “Be safe and stay away from Niccoló Medici.” A vicious attack on Isaac by Emilio Medici bolsters this statement. But Nicco has his own plan to find Calli before an already ruined city can be brought even lower. In this penultimate volume of her series, Arden (The Romeo Catchers, 2017, etc.) brings further heat to her love triangle and a broader, more otherworldly canvas on which to paint her cast’s heroism. The plot’s historical context is, as always, wretched yet captivating. Adele visits Jazzland, an amusement park devastated by the storm, and walks “through piles of stuffed bears in prize booths that looked like they’d been mauled by real ones, and dunking tanks filled with swamp water.” Meaty supernatural components include the lwa (Haitian Vodou spirits) and the accompanying Guinée (a part of the Afterworld). But the true reward for the author’s fans is the continuously vital portrayal of these characters. Adele’s friends love her, and a sweeping gesture in the final third is sure to make the audience misty-eyed.

A magnificent supernatural saga striding confidently toward its finale.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9897577-4-4

Page Count: 650

Publisher: For the Art of it Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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