One Times One

& OTHER NUMINOUS STORIES OF REDEMPTION AND LOSS

A collection spotlights 14 tales of madness, the possible existence of extraterrestrials, and inescapable fate.

The mere title of “Imminent Doom and His Own Demise” is indicative of all the author’s stories, which are decidedly darker in tone than Frode’s (A Dream of India, 2015) preceding book. In “Doom,” Victor’s torn by his wife’s suicide and is certain that both his and the world’s extinctions are inevitable. It likewise features a recurrent theme among the tales, one of a typically cruel destiny. “On the Stick,” for example, follows robotics engineer Switch, who picks up hitchhiking art student Art, only for the two to cross paths later in a startling turn. Similarly, in the title story, spiritual teacher Penelope bequeaths to her student Caldero a ring that may explain the mystery of the cosmos, while Al-kaid Al-Uqdah of “The Seven Lights” has seemingly been chosen (by the universe, perhaps) as owner of a book and potential key to alien contact. The stories repeatedly tread murky, sometimes-horrific territory. In the memorable “Token,” magician Theodore ignores a warning to steer clear of the bad-spirits–laden oak thicket behind his duplex and fashions a wand from a sapling with frightening results. “The Faithful,” too, is violent—earning a caution from the author in his introduction—but undeniably potent, a brief tale of groups of varying religions suffering persecution and much worse. There are, however, signs of optimism, like the woman in “A Cup of Coffee,” whose kind gesture for a homeless man could lead to an unusual but benevolent payback. Frode also injects a good deal more humor in this collection. Character names, for one, are frequently playful, including the conspicuously christened Destiny (“On the Stick”), plastic surgeon Dr. Cutter (“Knife Skills”), and head of Archaeological Collections and Archives, Archibald Richland VanDigguer (“Collections”). As in the author’s earlier work, his narratives are illustrative, even with minimal action. The contemplative protagonist of “Chayton’s Sky” primarily stands still, “watching the cloud slowly and ponderously writhe and quietly collapse little-by-little eventually into the chaos of the accompanying cloud masses alongside it or into the sky itself.” Often grim but always ruminative stories that turn out to be as eccentric as they are indelible.

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-312-76150-6

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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