A clever and charming time-travel adventure.

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Don't Know Where, Don't Know When

From the The Snipesville Chronicles series , Vol. 1

With help from a mysterious professor, three intrepid children travel back in time and then must figure out how to get home.

In this first installment of the Snipesville Chronicles, Laing (Look Ahead, Look Back, 2012) introduces three plucky children who accidentally stumble across the ability to travel back in time. Hannah Dias and her brother, Alex, have just moved from San Francisco to the sleepy town of Snipesville, Georgia, and Hannah especially is bored by her new surroundings. On their first day at a new summer camp, they meet Brandon, a young, nerdy African-American kid interested in World War II history. When the three encounter a mysterious professor, they suddenly find themselves in WWII–era London during the Blitz. With occasional help from the professor, who appears to guide them, Hannah, Alex, and Brandon must find a lost boy named George Braithwaite before they can return home; in the meantime, they must quickly adjust to their new surroundings. Laing, herself a history professor, crafts an endearing, clever story that remains coherent despite the perils of a time-travel plot. Her keen eye for historical detail of the period and the struggles the kids face (particularly Brandon) helps bring her setting vividly to life. Moreover, the lessons they learn and the dangers they face ring true as the kids slowly get a sense of life’s difficulties in the era. There are a few instances where dialogue and characterization fall a bit flat; for instance, sulky teenage Hannah has a few too many lines like “Why don’t you mind your own stupid business?” that feel a little canned. Nevertheless, the story’s charms will draw readers in and keep them engrossed until the very end, and the tightly structured narrative ensures that the pieces of the mystery come together well and that each twist feels plausible. This being the first of a series, let’s hope the next installments continue to infuse historical fiction with the same sense of joy and wonder.

A clever and charming time-travel adventure.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2007

ISBN: 978-0979476945

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Confusion Press

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be...

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

Some very nice, very smart African-Americans are plunged into netherworlds of malevolent sorcery in the waning days of Jim Crow—as if Jim Crow alone wasn’t enough of a curse to begin with.

In the northern U.S. of the mid-1950s, as depicted in this merrily macabre pastiche by Ruff (The Mirage, 2012, etc.), Driving While Black is an even more perilous proposition than it is now. Ask Atticus Turner, an African-American Korean War veteran and science-fiction buff, who is compelled to face an all-too-customary gauntlet of racist highway patrolmen and hostile white roadside hamlets en route from his South Side Chicago home to a remote Massachusetts village in search of his curmudgeonly father, Montrose, who was lured away by a young white “sharp dresser” driving a silver Cadillac with tinted windows. At least Atticus isn’t alone; his uncle George, who puts out annual editions of The Safe Negro Travel Guide, is splitting driving duties in his Packard station wagon “with inlaid birch trim and side paneling.” Also along for the ride is Atticus’ childhood friend Letitia Dandridge, another sci-fi fan, whose family lived in the same neighborhood as the Turners. It turns out this road trip is merely the beginning of a series of bizarre chimerical adventures ensnaring both the Turner and Dandridge clans in ancient rituals, arcane magical texts, alternate universes, and transmogrifying potions, all of which bears some resemblance to the supernatural visions of H.P. Lovecraft and other gothic dream makers of the past. Ruff’s ripping yarns often pile on contrivances and overextend the narratives in the grand manner of pulp storytelling, but the reinvented mythos here seems to have aroused in him a newfound empathy and engagement with his characters.

If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be doing triple axels in his grave at the way his imagination has been so impudently shaken and stirred.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-229206-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

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MEXICAN GOTHIC

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico.

Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family’s crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí’s help, claiming that she is “bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin,” and that High Place is “sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment.” Upon Noemí’s arrival at High Place, she’s struck by the Doyle family’s cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina’s listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven’t left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she’ll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale.

Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-62078-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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