Girl meets boy, becomes a vampire, and learns the ways of the undead in this entertaining but familiar tale.

PANDORA SYNDROME

A newly born vampire navigates the ins and outs of the supernatural world in this series opener.

Pandora Todd is a bit of an odd duck. While living a seemingly normal life in California, she experiences an occasional “episode” or two. Like the time her dead grandmother wakes up in her coffin and speaks to Dora. But life gets especially strange when Dora joins the ranks of the undead. She is shot and killed by an unknown assailant outside a bar in Los Angeles. Luckily, a handsome vampire named Remy (whose protective nature, age, and skill set recall numerous other literary vamps) is on hand to bring her back to life. Thus, Dora’s new journey begins. Under Remy’s tutelage, she learns the ways of the supernatural world. There are werewolves, witches, zombies, and a governing body known as the Order that keeps everyone in line. But as Dora and Remy quickly discover, she isn’t your run-of-the-mill vampire. She is also a necromancer who can raise the dead and create zombies of her own. But there’s another necromancer lurking in the shadows, an unknown threat that Dora and Remy can’t quite figure out. Wahlin (Thirteen Offerings, 2015) does a nice job creating Dora’s world and building a society of supernatural creatures who roam the streets largely without human knowledge. Some of the more humorous moments in the narrative are thanks to the author’s clever juxtaposition of the excitement and adventure of becoming a vampire with the decidedly less sexy reality of everyday life. In addition to learning how to feed off humans and control her superstrength, Dora still needs to find a job. The decision to make Dora a necromancer is also a good one. It’s a nice twist in an otherwise standard vampire tale. The vamp romance, interactions between the living and the dead, and a score of supernatural beings have been well-explored by characters such as Stephenie Meyer’s Edward Cullen, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse, and others.

Girl meets boy, becomes a vampire, and learns the ways of the undead in this entertaining but familiar tale.   

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5335-6619-5

Page Count: 536

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2019

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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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