Bleak, beautiful, and incredibly powerful.

NANCY

A woman, dying of cancer, reflects on her unhappy childhood.

The first novel to be published in English by Chilean author Lloret opens on a sunny morning, but there’s not much light in this lovely yet tragic book. It follows the title character, who is dying of cancer, as she reflects on her singularly unhappy childhood. Nancy was raised by a feckless father and a mother who subjected her and her brother, Pato, to horrific abuse, savagely beating them and telling Nancy things like “I wish you’d been born dead dead dead….Not even Pato came out as big and ugly as you, you little bitch.” Her brother later disappeared outside of a nightclub, leaving Nancy to bear the brunt of her mother’s viciousness. Nancy’s mother eventually abandoned her family, and her father converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; they lived together, almost always on the brink of poverty, at one point resorting to grave robbing to find jewelry to sell. Nancy later married Tim, a man several years her senior, but he had problems of his own; Nancy notes that “rum and Teletrak betting took my husband from me.” Still, she loved him, and was distraught after he was killed in a work accident while drunk. Recalling the long-term trauma that was her childhood, Nancy reflects on the disease that’s quickly killing her: “Knowing you’re going to die is horrible not just because you don’t want to die, but also because there’s always some residual, surviving doubt.” Lloret’s novel is obviously bleak beyond measure, but it’s also quite beautiful thanks to his self-assured and ethereal prose—after Nancy tells Tim that she’s dying, the two “[stare] at each other like divers underwater, sunk in uncertainty.” Lloret employs unusual typography, punctuating the book with a series of bold X’s; the effect is jarring but powerful, reminding the reader of Nancy’s impending fate. This is a gorgeous novel from a writer unafraid to consider the darkness; it’s hard to read but beyond rewarding.

Bleak, beautiful, and incredibly powerful.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949641-12-7

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Two Lines Press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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