A heroic cosmic odyssey that—for all the technology—remains textured with the stuff of legend, stirring and ultimately...



A space explorer—investigating a vanished expedition to colonize a faraway world—recalls an epic life filled with adventures, loss, and peril as he faces a potential reunion with a former love. 

Debut author Cahill spins a wide-roaming galactic tale with mythic overtones here. The novel’s first-person narrator is big, stout-hearted Oren Siris of a moon mining colony called Verygone. In spacegoing humanity’s far future (or remote past?), Oren belongs to the “Fellowship,” a vast unity of settled worlds—there’s no mention of intelligent alien life—ever pushing outward and exploring, much like the Star Trek franchise’s Federation. In trying to establish an outpost on the promising but remote world of Eaiph, a vanguard of “Architects” has seemingly disappeared—among them is Saiara Tumon Yta, a Fellowship ensign who was Oren’s great love. Because people can live millennia with advanced Fellowship technology and cryonic stasis, Oren hopes to reunite with Saiara, even after 627 years, as his own follow-up ship nears the planet. Meanwhile, the narrative recounts Oren’s earlier space exploits as a rookie cadet facing dangers and wonders, ranging from a derelict starship’s artificial intelligence (aka the “shipheart”) turning malignant to a rococo culture featuring a charming, penniless aristocrat leading visitors through a sort of carnival masquerade drawn from the dominant religion. At last on the semibarbaric Eaiph, Oren encounters old and new threats while trying to remain true to the Fellowship’s idealistic goals and his own dreams. The author’s rich vocabulary weaves spells with hard sci-fi threads blended neatly with loanwords and arcane and antique jargon (“amanuensis,” “pausha,” “biologician”). It is a mixture that sometimes touches the sublime in sci-fi lyricism: “We had reached Eaiph, one of the most fertile worlds ever discovered, a glassy blue cauldron of life, waiting for those to live it. In three more galactic weeks, the little waterstone would arrive to meet us on its passage around Soth Ra.” One can forgive Cahill’s springing the old Nightmare on Elm Street trick a few times too many, as tough spots and cliffhangers turn out to be dreams (yet sometimes, more than dreams). The manner in which the author resolves the strands should pinch the heartstrings of readers accustomed to programmed uplift.

A heroic cosmic odyssey that—for all the technology—remains textured with the stuff of legend, stirring and ultimately melancholy.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-973326-65-6

Page Count: 490

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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