A richly conceived fantasy with a grand emotional payoff.

SORROWFISH

1

From the The Call of the Lorica series

In Miles’ debut fantasy novel, an art student’s dreams bring her into contact with a wizard and his extraordinary realm.

Sara Moore studies sculpture at the Hite Institute for the Arts in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s having trouble finishing her final piece that will allow her to graduate and begin a rewarding career as an artist. Her troubled personal life isn’t helping matters; her twin sister, Marilla, has been in a coma following a car accident eight months ago, and her best friend, Peter, could be the love of her life, if only she’d commit to their relationship. Also, Sara’s been having vivid dreams about a strange gnome—and once, she woke with a splinter after dreaming of touching a wooden table. Meanwhile, on a world called Canard, Dane Whitley is a “dewin,” or music mage, who’s capable of harnessing the divine Song without going mad from the accompanying Dissonance. He crafts magical instruments that are forbidden by the conclave, the religious order that’s ruled Canard since the good Storm King sacrificed himself to save the people from the evil Wyrm. Later, when Dane sees an elusive “fae” spirit named Sara, she tells him, “Fire. Fire everywhere. Run.” He follows her command and barely escapes being burned alive by conclave acolytes. Can Dane and Sara somehow forge a bond and solve the problems that plague each other’s lives? Miles offers a dense emotional tapestry for fantasy fans who may be looking for more than swords and sorcery. The intensive worldbuilding involves gnomes who raise human children (known as “deemlings”), shape-changers known as “chymaera,” and a monumentally epic World Tree (“The Tree was enormous, bone white, its top shrouded. It had split perfectly down the center....Clouds served as the Tree’s canopy”). However, although Canard’s narrative ambles forward with wild invention, Sara’s more grounded narrative sings more strongly. The complex family dynamics surrounding Marilla’s situation, for example, could fuel its own novel. Miles’ final revelations promise further layering of reality and fantasy in a planned sequel.

A richly conceived fantasy with a grand emotional payoff.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-07-222658-1

Page Count: 363

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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