At once original, poignant, brutal, and beautiful; for fans of literary and historical novels.

THE BEGINNING OF HIS EXCELLENT AND EVENTFUL CAREER

This historical novel traces the real and imagined exploits of Pancho Villa as a youth, bandito, and hero of the revolution while examining the question of what, exactly, constitutes truth in storytelling.

MacKenzie spins his debut tale in language spiced with just the right hint of a Latin lilt to lend verisimilitude and poetic cadence: “The sky was not clearer then nor was the air of a purer smell but in my memory both these things seem as though they were true and so they are.” This theme of a story being true because of the way it is remembered or told runs throughout; and so we see Villa as everything from abused peasant to brutish thug to fair and respected leader. When barely 16, Villa walks in on a confrontation between his mother and sister and landowner Don Agustín López Negrete. He shoots Don Agustín and escapes into the inhospitable sierra, thus launching him into a world outside the law. During his criminal career, he steals cattle, shoots people, achieves daring escapes, and, depending on what versions you believe, becomes everything from Robin Hood to a sociopath. His fellow bandits are Refugio Alvarado and Ignacio Parra. Ignacio is a drunk, but Refugio, an eloquent speaker who can rouse the peasants against the dons, gives Villa his first inkling of a political outlook on their activities. At last Villa wearies of his brigand life and opens a butcher shop. But the peace is short-lived. He is soon back on the run and assumes his role as a commander of the Constitutionalist Army in the Mexican Revolution, where he now commits noble acts such as sparing the life of the man who killed his mother. MacKenzie’s fascinating literary picaresque is told in stark, beautiful imagery: “The night was vacant and dull, the square silent save for the insects that clicked and chirped back up in the trees like little boxes of metal and bone.”

At once original, poignant, brutal, and beautiful; for fans of literary and historical novels.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 271

Publisher: MadHat Press

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2018

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

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DEVOLUTION

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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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