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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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice,...

LONG DIVISION

A novel within a novel—hilarious, moving and occasionally dizzying.

Citoyen “City” Coldson is a 14-year-old wunderkind when it comes to crafting sentences. In fact, his only rival is his classmate LaVander Peeler. Although the two don’t get along, they’ve qualified to appear on the national finals of the contest "Can You Use That Word in a Sentence," and each is determined to win. Unfortunately, on the nationally televised show, City is given the word “niggardly” and, to say the least, does not provide a “correct, appropriate or dynamic usage” of the word as the rules require. LaVander similarly blows his chance with the word “chitterlings,” so both are humiliated, City the more so since his appearance is available to all on YouTube. This leads to a confrontation with his grandmother, alas for City, “the greatest whupper in the history of Mississippi whuppings.” Meanwhile, the principal at City’s school has given him a book entitled Long Division. When City begins to read this, he discovers that the main character is named City Coldson, and he’s in love with a Shalaya Crump...but this is in 1985, and the contest finals occurred in 2013. (Laymon is nothing if not contemporary.) A girl named Baize Shephard also appears in the novel City is reading, though in 2013, she has mysteriously disappeared a few weeks before City’s humiliation. Laymon cleverly interweaves his narrative threads and connects characters in surprising and seemingly impossible ways.

Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice, confusion and love rooted in an emphatically post-Katrina world.

Pub Date: June 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-932841-72-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Bolden/Agate

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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