Like the ghosts who inhabit its pages, the novel lingers long after you’ve put it down.


A ghost story that focuses not on a single spirit but on an entire city whose layered history haunts its occupants.

“Meg had the unsettling sense that she was seeing all the layers of the city transposed over one another, like scrims in a play going haywire.” Meg Rhys proudly carries her “Spinster Librarian card” and does not believe in love, thank you very much. Instead she believes in ghosts, and in New York City there is no shortage of phantasmal company. Haunted by (accompanied by?) the ghost of her sister, who died at 25, Meg armors herself with the weapons that might otherwise be used to attack her: She’s 40 and single, she’s a librarian, and she has a cat named Virginia Wolf (a misspelling only Meg finds funny as well as a wink toward Shearn’s fondness for multi-comma’d sentences). When handsome Ellis Williams approaches Meg at her Brooklyn library to help him uncover the truth about a rental property his father owns in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the circumstances seem ripe for a traditional romantic comedy—that is if their trauma and grief weren’t compounded by the occult. The two of them undertake an obsessive research project as they peel back the layers of the house, and the city itself. Largely focused on Meg, the omniscient narrator occasionally switches to the perspective of a young Black girl whose story is slowly revealed. At times Shearn’s exploration of topics as weighty as gentrification, police brutality, and Black trauma comes off oversimplified and overfiltered by the White heroine. That said, it is clear that Shearn has done her research—and details about the free Black settlement Weeksville in particular are treated with sensitivity and knowledge. Ultimately, the novel is as much a haunting by the geography of New York as it is the story of a few souls who live—or have lived—there.

Like the ghosts who inhabit its pages, the novel lingers long after you’ve put it down.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59709-367-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 30

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller


After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

Did you like this book?