Stirring sci-fi action that should appeal to fans who applaud the introduction “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

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The Green Knight

From the Space Lore series , Vol. 1

A space princess tries to halt a terrible war—seemingly prompted by her father—while facing an appointment with execution at the hands of the mysterious Green Knight.

The first in a Space Lore series by prolific sci-fi author Dietzel (The Theta Prophecy, 2015, etc.), this novel brings a Lucasfilm vibe to select bits of Arthurian romance and legend (with a few character names and themes from Shakespeare thrown in—for good measure-for-measure). For six years, Vere CasterLan, princess in a space monarchy, has dwelled in self-exile with rogues and thieves, far away from her treacherous royal family. She fled a Hamlet situation in which her father, King Artan of the CasterLan Empire, remarried unwisely—and commanded Vere to wed the heir to the rival Vonnegan Empire soon after the curious disappearance of her true love. Now the king is dying, and he has apparently ordered an unprovoked attack in Vonnegan territory, resulting in war. Vere and her motley crew of frenemies and allies (including a giant reptile, a sort of Chewbacca figure) race to sort out what she considers a dreadful misunderstanding; meanwhile, bounty hunters from all over the galaxy seek her death. Threatening to overstuff the narrative, though, is the title figure, the enigmatic Green Knight (borrowed from the medieval tale of Sir Gawain), who was beheaded by Vere in a tavern confrontation yet survived. He now embraces her vow that she will seek him out on her home planet within seven days to receive a return blow. Perils gradually whittle down Vere’s band of loyalists, and Dietzel proves a master at the larger-than-life ensemble swashbuckling of Joseph Campbellian–infused space opera. The switch in traditional leadership roles, with strong heroines trading places with male heroes, comes off painlessly, and a forceful space-battle climax is worthy of author E.E. “Doc” Smith himself. Celtic-myth flavor seldom seems forced or mashuplike, and further installments in the Space Lore books promise to bring additional bits of Camelot into the exciting universe Dietzel has created.    

Stirring sci-fi action that should appeal to fans who applaud the introduction “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 418

Publisher: Watch the World End Publications

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2016

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

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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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