THE DARKENING DREAM

Vampires run rampant in Gavin’s debut supernatural thriller.

Teenager Sarah Englemann finds her life in 1913 Salem, Mass., turned upside down with the murder of a classmate—and his reappearance as a feral vampire. Drawn into an underworld of the occult, Sarah, with the help of her friends and a new classmate (a mysterious Greek named Alexandros Palaogos), must confront the forces of darkness in their town. These forces include Parris, a local pastor who is secretly a warlock, and an ancient, mysterious demon named Al-Nasir—together they search for Gabriel’s Horn, an instrument designed to bring about the end of the world. The teenagers struggle to stop their enemies in time, and they try to understand Sarah’s mysterious connection to Gabriel’s Horn. Before Sarah’s battle against the forces of darkness is over, there will be blood spilled, questions asked over who can actually be trusted, trips taken to other dimensions and all will be touched by tragedy. Gavin struggles early in the book, relying on awkward analogies that distract from the narrative flow, and veers into unnecessary explanations of the story’s events. But he finds his footing and these rough spots quickly even out as the author’s prose becomes clear and he gleefully transforms a story of teenagers battling vampires into something much more. The story turns into a mash-up of Greco-Roman mythology, Judeo-Christian imagery and the occult, making it a fresh take on the overdone vampire genre. Gavin’s writing also hints at a wonderfully twisted sense of humor, notable in one early scene with the beheading of a vampire that quickly turns comical as the young protagonists add “vampire killing” to the already stressful load of puberty. The action throughout is fast-paced and compelling, and the ending hits the right note, a brutal turn of events that strongly hints at a sequel—an enticing prospect. A vampire novel with actual bite.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1937945008

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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