A dense, character-driven weave of fantasy, mythology, and romance.

The Oath

From the The Crest of the Beast series , Vol. 1

This fantasy debut sees a lady-in-training drawn into battle against an evil force that’s destroying kingdoms far and wide.

While still a child, Adelheide, or “Adlai,” of House DuReiyne left her own family for the safety of House Dombrey. King WenLaon decided to have her raised alongside his son, Willan, while he fought the Shadow spreading through other nations. Now Adlai is a mischievous 16-year-old, and she adores Lord Willan, eight years her senior. One day, while practicing their tracking skills, the pair travels on horseback further than they intended. Cutting through the dark woods toward home, they encounter two winged beasts; a ferocious battle chases away Adlai's horse, and she’s gravely injured. Miraculously, though, she’s soon healthy enough to be reprimanded by headmistress Ardath, an abusive woman capable of boundless cruelties. Later, a cadre of tutors, including the affable Dr. Hindley, arrives to help mold Adlai into a lady fit for court. A disfigured stranger, whom Willan orders Adlai to avoid, then visits the Manor. When the stranger returns Adlai’s missing horse, however, her life turns bizarre. She finds that the answers to lingering questions about her origin are tangled up in both her dreams and her waking world, even as the love that’s carried her through a difficult youth proves unsustainable. Clark’s richly textured fantasy debut casts familiar creatures such as elves, dwarfs, and griffins in elaborate new roles that should surprise longtime readers of the genre. She vividly portrays Adlai’s teenage mindset in lines such as, she “felt an uncanny certainty that every peevish emotion she ever held was worn openly upon her sleeve.” Elsewhere, Adlai receives a mission that adds a religious tenor to the narrative; she’s told by a higher power that “the weaker you are...the more My own strength can freely flow through you.” Occasionally, the descriptions are florid, but when Clark serves up a dreamlike atmosphere (particularly in a scene featuring the Muses), her prose shines. This volume brings the story a measure of closure before speeding Adlai toward further adventures.

A dense, character-driven weave of fantasy, mythology, and romance.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-692-31801-0

Page Count: 402

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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