While slow to get moving, this vampire tale unleashes plenty of paranomal suspense.

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THE BLAZING

A VAMPIRE STORY

A suspicious murder in New Orleans ignites a supernatural, romantic thriller.

Viveca Moreau lived in a church-run orphanage after her parents died in a car accident. It wasn’t easy to grow up in New Orleans without a family to look after her: Once she was grabbed and nearly hurt in an alley by a man with a sinister air who “looked like a zombie.” Yet she was saved from harm by an even stranger man named Richard Ambrose. Viveca learned that Richard hailed from England, and she thought he “was as handsome as the princes in her fairy-tale books,” with dark hair that fell to his shoulders and eyes “of a color only God could have made.” But he disappears from her life (if not from her dreams) until, after years of hard work and a celibate existence, she becomes a homicide detective. Viveca is tough, but few things prepare her for investigating the murder of a college friend. The dead woman’s body has been drained of blood, and she has two bite wounds on her neck. All signs would point to murder by a vampire. But vampires aren’t real, are they? Viveca’s search for answers endangers her life, and as Richard again comes to her aid, she learns more about his past and realizes that she may have to save not just her life, but his. The story takes a slow path to its main events, first giving a glimpse of Richard’s past (a device perhaps influenced by Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire) and then of Viveca’s backstory, including her decision to study psychology in college and the stresses of her college job working in a print shop. Although these less-than-enticing details might have been explained more economically, once the blood starts spilling, the reader has a lot to consider. Will Viveca figure out what is going on in her beloved New Orleans? What will become of her developing relationship with Richard? Twists in the story are well placed, and even Viveca becomes surprised at where she might end up.

While slow to get moving, this vampire tale unleashes plenty of paranomal suspense.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-79606-109-3

Page Count: 274

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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