A vigorous and immersive vampire tale set against the twilight of the Romanovs.

THE NOSFERATU CONSPIRACY

BOOK ONE: THE SLEEPWALKER

From the The Nosferatu Conspiracy series , Vol. 1

An alternative history horror novel reimagines the fall of the Romanovs.

In December 1916, members of the Russian imperial family are prisoners in their own palace as the country teeters on the brink of revolution. The empress Alexandra and her son, Alexei, are plagued by a mysterious disease that causes them to crave blood and abhor sunlight. Alexei is visited in his sleep by “the shadow man,” who bids him to kill his father, Czar Nicholas. Meanwhile, an apocalyptic cult called the Khlysts has been appearing in St. Petersburg in growing numbers—and rumor has it that its members include some close to the imperial family. A strannik, or religious pilgrim, named Grigori Rasputin arrives in the city on a train from Bucharest carrying no papers or baggage. He has returned to oversee a venture he began long ago with the kidnapping of Alexandra—a plan of great consequence to Rasputin and his coven of vampires. St. Petersburg coroner Rurik Kozlov is convinced that the murdered bodies passing through his lab are the work of the Sleepwalker, a serial killer operating in Romania two decades earlier, though the local authorities are unwilling to admit as much. Rurik knows that there has been a hunt for evidence of Desmodus draculae—the god of the Khlysts—for years. In Rurik’s quest to stop the evil force, he finds an ally in Prince Felix Yusupov, the loving uncle of Alexei. If they fail, it is not only the Romanovs who will suffer, but all of Russia—and maybe the world. Gage’s prose is well calibrated for this Gothic series opener, blending imperial courtliness with vampire grisliness. “You will see I am a man of truth when your carriage crosses the Liteyny Bridge and continues up Bolshoy Sampsonievskiy,” Rasputin warns two aristocratic sisters upon meeting them. “Far outside of Saint Petersburg there is a cabin in the woods where your murderers await to hack you to bits.” There are a few moments when the book’s violence slides into poor taste, but on the whole, the story is a highly satisfying merging of horror and political milieus, wringing a bit of fun—and a whole lot of blood—out of one of the most chaotic and tragic periods of modern history.

A vigorous and immersive vampire tale set against the twilight of the Romanovs.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-578-62713-7

Page Count: 438

Publisher: KDK 12, Inc

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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