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Love, or The Witches of Windward Circle

A decidedly dark tale for those with funny bones, strong stomachs, and open minds.

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Love, lust, and the occult combine in Allende’s deliciously humorous debut novel.

A small cottage in Venice, California, 1912. The household matriarch—a witch with a nefarious past—is dying and looking for absolution. She leaves behind three daughters: a pair of beautiful and narcissistic brats and one ugly, forgotten young girl. The youngest becomes the novel’s woeful protagonist whose misadventures form the backbone of this unique tale. In an unexpected twist on “Cinderella,” the nameless and voiceless girl becomes the household slave. Shunned from infancy, she has been kept in a crate, reviled by her family, and forced to care for her ungrateful half sisters. While the older sisters enjoy raucous satanic parties, cavorting with scores of dark creatures, the youngest sits at home and is told that if only she would clean more, maybe she could make it to the next demonic ball. As the years drag on, the nameless woman becomes increasingly obsessed with a desire to become young and beautiful, stumbling along as she attempts to achieve her goal. The novel’s strength is its humor, a tongue-in-cheek examination of all things occult. Allende juxtaposes the grotesque and the absurd, with often hilarious results. Readers are treated to the scene of a mother berating her youngest for ruining her prized curtains as she’s literally being dragged into hell. The novel is full of these moments in which characters fervently pray to God that their evil, murderous plans will be successful. It's darkly funny, but at times, gratuitous violence blurs the line between humor and gore: child sacrifices, multiple beheadings. A multitude of richly drawn characters adds color, such as a demon with a penchant for lipstick who helps his mistress in her quest for youth. Readers with an interest in Southern California history will enjoy subplots that look at Venice’s beatnik past as well as the rise and fall of The Gas House, a real landmark.

A decidedly dark tale for those with funny bones, strong stomachs, and open minds.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942600-49-7

Page Count: 398

Publisher: Rare Bird Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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