A solid debut layered with flashbacks, eroticism, and emotionally dynamic characters.

Rhiannon's Tale


From the Eternal Tales series

In this romantic fantasy debut, a young woman who can see peoples’ auras learns that she’s part of a larger clan, one a militant cult wants destroyed.

Megan Byrne can see the glowing auras of those around her. In downtown Kansas City, Missouri, she just glimpsed a man with a dark aura drain a young woman’s life force. Megan knows she witnessed the exact same scene 24 years ago, when she lived the life of San Francisco woman Kat Weiss. When Kat killed herself to escape this evil man, her hidden core identity of Rhiannon was reborn as Megan. This time, Rhiannon panics and ends up in the psychiatric ward of St. Michael’s hospital. After a brief stay, she’s picked up by her childhood friend Greg, who knows about her strange ability to push people into making decisions in her favor. Next, Rhiannon decides to visit Kat Weiss’ grave in California. Traveling through Kansas, she attends a lecture by author Zerik Denali, an expert on reincarnation with whom she forms an instant—and sensual—bond. Examining Rhiannon’s aura, Zerik reveals that she is an “aeternan,” one of Those Who Do Not Forget, and has lived many lives. Much later, at Kat’s grave, they encounter Dead Monks belonging to The Guard, a clandestine group focused on eliminating the powerful aeternans. Starting her series, debut author Elder draws readers into a complex hidden society, complete with its own language and sexual mores. Every element of the narrative is densely layered, from Megan’s traumatic childhood (in which she was molested by her stepfather) to the individual powers (called e’drai) of each aeternan. The prose often drifts into potent lyricism: “The universe was a puzzle, woven through with elegant conflicting threads, songs whispered within the heart of potentiality.” Though the opening points toward a thriller, the second half features a Rhiannon who’s comfortable among her extended family. The story’s main theme is that of enlightenment gained through open sexuality, but Elder explores this a bit too long before concluding the chase. A tighter pace would help the sequel.

A solid debut layered with flashbacks, eroticism, and emotionally dynamic characters.

Pub Date: June 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9962074-0-9

Page Count: 420

Publisher: Radical Muse

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2015

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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

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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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