THE VAMPIRE ARMAND

From the The Vampire Chronicles series

Here continue the stories of Armand, first met in Interview with the Vampire(1976), and Marius, encountered in the ancient Rome of Pandora and still alive in New Orleans, where he tends the comatose body of top vampire Lestat, who’s returned from Heaven and Hell with Veronica’s Veil (Memnoch the Devil, 1995). The young Armand, first given the dark gift 500 years ago by Marius, still looks as boyish as a Botticelli angel and remains in thrall to Marius, who’s trying to fathom the long sleep of Lestat and perhaps woo the unwilling Armand away from his two mortal children: dark-haired little Benji, an Arab boy, and the tender, willowy Sybelle. When the recently befanged and elderly scholar David Talbot, Superior General of the Talamasca, an order of psychic detectives, shows up, he is no longer old but has switched to a young body and coaxes Armand (as he did 2,000-year-old Pandora) to relate his memoirs to him. With vague memories of spending his boyhood in Kiev Rus, Armand awoke as an amnesiac boy in Istanbul many centuries ago as slave or captive, and was sold into Venice, where Marius, a great Renaissance painter with a taste for lavish living, took him as a special member of his harem of boys, making him a sex slave. By day, Marius disappears, returns to paint by night, and at last grants Armand eternal life. He educates him in history, philosophy, and the law. Then the Children of Darkness, vampires who kill for God, burn the palazzo and paintings, burn Marius and his harem, and capture Armand. Marius, of course, is not really dead. Eventually, all turns on Armand’s love for Benji and Sybelle, on Rice’s lush reading of Beethoven’s Appassionata piano sonata, and on a dreamy awakening of Lestat as Christ. Rice at her ripest, with research easily absorbed by the voluptuous text, though she fawns over her weaker, or more sentimental, moments.

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Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-45447-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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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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