A deft mix of history, mythology, and coming-of-age themes.

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We Walk in Darkness

From the Spell Weaver series , Vol. 5

Supernatural and mythical beings enliven this latest installment in Hiatt’s (Evil Within Yourselves, 2015, etc.) Spell Weaver action-adventure series.

About five hours away from Santa Brigada, where Tal Weaver and his allies have come to terms with their past lives and their amazing abilities, the teenage Lucas struggles to accept his own freakish talents and psychic visions. He fears the scorn he would face from his peers if his secrets were discovered, which would make the former challenges he experienced as a dancer seem inconsequential by comparison. But when a trained assassin from the shadow world targets him in order to complete her training, his worries take a back seat to his efforts to save his life and family. He’s alternately helped and hindered by a mysterious stranger identifying herself at different times as his grandmother, his great-grandmother, or possibly his mother. Whomever she is, she’s of Encantado origin, like him, and she manages to connect Lucas with Tal and his friends. The group soon finds itself embroiled in conflict with a rapidly growing shadow army. The battle is complicated by a discovery that the initial shadow assassin isn’t what she first appeared to be, and her true identity raises moral questions. The fast-paced action that typifies Hiatt’s work is evident here, but there’s also time for nuanced emotions to develop, such as Lucas’ desire to be known and accepted. By giving new characters control of the narrative, the author revitalizes the series while remaining true to its roots. In particular, he preserves the series’ enjoyably suggestive overtones (“I'm not just descended from weredolphins, but from horny weredolphins!”) and pithy, clever comments (“backyards so small and narrow that if you put in a hot tub, no one could walk from one end of the yard to the other without wading part of the way”). The relative brevity of this installment makes for a tauter, more intense presentation, although the conclusion feels somewhat arbitrary and abrupt, and the setup for the next book seems too overt. Overall, though, this novel is another satisfying addition to the Spell Weaver tales.

A deft mix of history, mythology, and coming-of-age themes.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5175-9367-4

Page Count: 114

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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