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VENCO

Fast, fun, and full of charm(s).

A coven of diverse modern-day witches must band together to discover their seventh and final member before they're hunted down.

Lucky St. James’ life has been anything but lucky. Born to the wildly iconoclastic and troubled Arnya, a member of Canada’s Indigenous Métis people, Lucky was largely raised by her paternal grandmother, Stella, after her mother’s early death and her father's disappearance "down an opioid drain hole." Now in her late 20s, she's trying to hold a job, manage Stella’s increasing dementia, and stare down her and Stella’s impending eviction from their Toronto apartment. Lucky’s life seems impossible—and then she finds the spoon. Tiny, ornamental, adorned with a witch caricature and labeled SALEM, the spoon seems nothing more than a curio, but, unbeknownst to Lucky, it marks her as the sixth and penultimate member of a coven of contemporary witches who are about to change her life forever. Meena, the descendent of one of the original Salem witches; Wendy, an Anishinaabe woman who has outgrown reservation life; Morticia, a goth terrified of aging into suburban femininity; Lettie, a young Creole mother fleeing an abusive relationship; and Freya, a trans girl from a fundamentalist Christian family, are ready to welcome both Lucky and Stella into their unconventional family circle, but there’s a catch. There's a seventh witch who must be located before the circle can be completed—but no one knows who she is, she could be anywhere in North America, and Lucky and Stella must find her within 17 days. As if this weren’t enough pressure for the bemused but hopeful Lucky and her relentlessly sprightly grandma, there's the added wrinkle of Jay Christos, a ruthless member of the ancient witch-hunting brotherhood the Benandanti who is hot on their tail. A propulsive read full of intriguing detail, this novel is well written, engaging, and, more than anything, enjoyable. If the dichotomy between the feminine (good) and masculine (bad) is a bit stark, this is made up for by the genuine affection the reader will feel for Dimaline’s irreverent, badass witches as they battle for the future of their family and the future of the world, one and the same in Dimaline’s inclusive vision.

Fast, fun, and full of charm(s).

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063054899

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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FOURTH WING

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

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