Intrigue abounds, but too much is left to the reader’s imagination.


Kara Richards


In this fantasy debut, a group of teens prepare for war against the evil magician who killed their parents.

Thirteen-year-old Kara lives with a strict but loving adoptive family. One day, they reveal to her that she has an aunt named Annie. Once they meet, the vibrant woman tells Kara that she can explain why the girl went up for adoption and how there are other orphaned teens who are likewise special. Kara is intrigued because she’s levitated her MP3 player and experienced dreams that felt like memories. She travels with Annie to an island sanctuary protected by magical wards, where she meets her uncle Paul as well as fellow orphans Seth, Phillip, and Scarlet, among others. Kara learns that her parents, Myra and Frank, were powerful users of both black and white magic—but they were killed in battle against the dark magician Tallemar. The pressure on Kara mounts when she discovers that she’s the result of specific magical bloodlines and must lead the charge against Tallemar and his minions. Unbeknownst to Kara, her parents didn’t die; they were shunted to an alternate reality, a barren wasteland that nevertheless allows them to see into Kara’s world. Can this heroic girl magician master the powers that flow through her in time to thwart Tallemar’s plans? Eubank’s debut fantasy, which begins a new series, explores family dynamics with a careful eye to the psychology behind good, evil, and states between. The prose, consisting almost entirely of dialogue, has a clean, hypnotic cadence that draws readers into Kara’s world. This world, however, lacks a firmly described setting, and substantial dramatic arcs are missing. Instead, Eubank uses vast swaths of dialogue to hash out the characters’ pasts and possible futures. This will frustrate fantasy fans hungry for detailed settings and action. Surprise revelations spice up the tale, but by the end, the novel feels more like an overlong prologue. Eubank seems almost hesitant to have anything actually happen to her characters.

Intrigue abounds, but too much is left to the reader’s imagination.

Pub Date: June 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5049-1905-0

Page Count: 274

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be...


Some very nice, very smart African-Americans are plunged into netherworlds of malevolent sorcery in the waning days of Jim Crow—as if Jim Crow alone wasn’t enough of a curse to begin with.

In the northern U.S. of the mid-1950s, as depicted in this merrily macabre pastiche by Ruff (The Mirage, 2012, etc.), Driving While Black is an even more perilous proposition than it is now. Ask Atticus Turner, an African-American Korean War veteran and science-fiction buff, who is compelled to face an all-too-customary gauntlet of racist highway patrolmen and hostile white roadside hamlets en route from his South Side Chicago home to a remote Massachusetts village in search of his curmudgeonly father, Montrose, who was lured away by a young white “sharp dresser” driving a silver Cadillac with tinted windows. At least Atticus isn’t alone; his uncle George, who puts out annual editions of The Safe Negro Travel Guide, is splitting driving duties in his Packard station wagon “with inlaid birch trim and side paneling.” Also along for the ride is Atticus’ childhood friend Letitia Dandridge, another sci-fi fan, whose family lived in the same neighborhood as the Turners. It turns out this road trip is merely the beginning of a series of bizarre chimerical adventures ensnaring both the Turner and Dandridge clans in ancient rituals, arcane magical texts, alternate universes, and transmogrifying potions, all of which bears some resemblance to the supernatural visions of H.P. Lovecraft and other gothic dream makers of the past. Ruff’s ripping yarns often pile on contrivances and overextend the narratives in the grand manner of pulp storytelling, but the reinvented mythos here seems to have aroused in him a newfound empathy and engagement with his characters.

If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be doing triple axels in his grave at the way his imagination has been so impudently shaken and stirred.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-229206-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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