An overly long yet honest account of a family ensnared by tragedy.

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A STORY OF LOSS

In Ark’s (Pants on Fire!, 2013) novel, an artist in Hawaii loses her philandering husband to a younger woman, then two of her children to suicide.

The morning of their 25th wedding anniversary, Bullet Pulaski tells his wife, Lucky, that he wants a divorce. Leaving her and his three children, he moves in with one of his art students yet continues for months to wander in and out of the family home and the studio where Lucky fires pottery and he paints. Lucky is fully developed: Her Catholic upbringing has been eclipsed by tarot readings and New Age spirituality; an early desire to perform onstage was discarded in favor of motherhood, a deep commitment to her art and an overwhelming need for love. Though at first she aches for her husband, as his narcissistic behavior worsens and she recalls years of indignities endured, her love turns bitter, fueling a divorce every bit as nasty as her parents’. The scenes Ark writes are vivid and real—Christmas morning destroyed when Bullet’s pet donkey devours breakfast, or Lucky, when she is desperate for sensation, kissing her own arm and masturbating with “Moby Pickle” from the fridge. The divorce goes on and on, and time grows soupy, with the story stalling amid the depression and chaos. There are confusing jumps through time; Ark writes that “1989, 1990, 1991 had come and gone…and no divorce,” though about 140 pages later, “fourteen months had passed since Lucky filed for divorce.” Two men wander into and out of her life, but the pain they cause is trifling compared with the losses that will come. As tragedy overtakes Lucky, the prose is eloquently anguished: “How did she find herself still there, isolated on a windswept shore in the midst of the great Pacific, her womb wrenched loose as though ripped and fed upon by grief-starved sharks?”

An overly long yet honest account of a family ensnared by tragedy.

Pub Date: June 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988476219

Page Count: 514

Publisher: ARABELLA ARK

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2014

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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