An engrossing, sometimes eerie tale with a pragmatic but remarkable protagonist.

THE DEVIL AND DAYNA DALTON

From the A Bulwark Anthology series , Vol. 9

A woman who has pined over a guy for years unwittingly captures the attention of a handsome but unsettling stranger in this novella.

People in the town of Bulwark, Georgia, generally dismiss Dayna Dalton. Due to her mother’s dismal reputation, some write Dayna off as Becky Dalton’s “white-trash daughter.” A reporter for local newspaper the Bulwark Advance, Dayna has had her choice of potential suitors throughout the years. But there’s only one person she wants: Sheriff Clay Finnes. She’s been drawn to Clay since the two were high schoolers in Bulwark. Although he’s respectful of Dayna, he rejects each one of her advances and wishes simply to be friends. Her longing continues even after Clay ties the knot with nurse Jenna Harper. But Dayna never makes a pass at the sheriff when he’s married, and she seems content with their working relationship, as he provides information on cases for the paper. Dayna typically writes puff pieces for the Advance but is always on the lookout for something juicy. She may have found just that with the wolf that nearly attacks her. But her editor assures her there are no wolves in Bulwark. Consequently, she keeps mum about the red-eyed stranger who apparently rescued her from the animal. When she returns to the woods where she first saw the man, Dayna hears someone calling her name. The stranger then appears in a rousing but surreal encounter, and Dayna later witnesses unexplainable things that make her question if she’s hallucinating or stepping into new, much darker terrain. This is the ninth installment of a multiauthor anthology, with recurring characters and stories set in Bulwark. This brisk, enjoyable novella frequently references Lunden’s (The Knowing, 2019, etc.) Book 1 as well as her pre-anthology, Bulwark-set debut work. For example, there’s a notable scene featuring older townsperson JB Straton. To find out a lot of specifics about this character, readers would need to peruse the earlier stories. But the author suitably incorporates some details about the man in this installment (for example, chasing a possible article on JB ultimately leads to the stranger with blood-red eyes). Dayna, who has also previously appeared in the anthology, is a sympathetic protagonist. She has genuine affection for Clay, and she suffers a contentious relationship with Becky. In the same vein, Dayna’s “series of meaningless affairs” is a sign that she’s trying, and repeatedly failing, to find a deeper connection with someone other than Clay. The story, perhaps unsurprisingly, gets more somber as Dayna gets closer to the stranger. Scenes with the two are ambiguous, which will lead most readers to question, like Dayna, what she’s actually experiencing. Lunden’s writing style delivers titillating moments that still manage subtlety: “A faint exhalation of breath tickled her neck, making every organ in her body sizzle and snap back to life.” The humor is as dark as the plot. Dayna’s former babysitter, Thelma Sweetpea, is now her neighbor, and she has a wanton animosity for the reporter. Mrs. Sweetpea is funny as an elderly woman who evidently disapproves of Dayna’s lifestyle, but the neighbor also becomes progressively creepier.

An engrossing, sometimes eerie tale with a pragmatic but remarkable protagonist.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-950080-02-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Chelshire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2019

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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