MEM

The defiant story of an impossible enigma who only yearns to be a real girl.

A young woman’s personality is the result of a startling experimental procedure, leaving her to struggle with the question of who she really is.

This debut novel by multigenre fabulist Morrow is a haunting exploration of memory, identity, and mortality set in a vaguely sinister alternate-reality Montreal circa 1925. In this rendering, scientists have discovered a peculiar method of extracting memories from people and delivering them into “Mems,” half-alive creatures whose purpose is to experience the memory over and over again in a fortress called the Vault until they die. But not our narrator, oddly enough. The story is told by a 19-year-old Mem who identifies as "Elsie," though her true designation is “Dolores Extract No. 1,” meant to keep the memory of a car crash in 1906 from troubling her “source,” Dolores Shepherd. But Elsie is a fully formed individual, capable of forming her own memories, the only Mem who's been allowed to live independently outside the Vault. Repeatedly she tells us, “I am a memory. Now I suppose I’ll live like one,” as she struggles with her place in this strange world. Called back to the Vault, Elsie learns that because Dolores has reached her maximum number of Mems, she is in danger of being “reprinted,” wiping out her unique self. Protected by a kindly professor and his wife, Elsie encounters broken Mems, fractured Sources, and a smitten scientist during her evolution into a new kind of being. In studying memory, Elsie becomes even more aware of the damage resulting from this cruel practice. “What kind of people are we if we can’t traverse the landscape of our own memories?” she asks. “What kind of people do they become who refuse?” These philosophical explorations ultimately culminate in a disturbing clash between Elsie and Dolores prime. With her dizzying concept, richly imagined narrator, ornate setting, and first-rate storytelling, Morrow offers an epiphany for readers of speculative fiction with echoes of ideas explored in films like Blade Runner and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

The defiant story of an impossible enigma who only yearns to be a real girl.

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944700-55-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Unnamed Press

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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