An enjoyable tale of reclamation through time travel.

INHERITING FATE

In this debut novel, a damaged woman seeking to rebuild her life gets drawn into a historical mystery.

McFarland’s protagonist, Cassie McAllister, survived a vicious attack by her ex-husband, James Lancaster, but still bears the physical and mental scars. Since her parents’ recent deaths in a car accident, Cassie is also haunted by a woman’s voice saying “Save her.” Her self-prescribed therapy is to move into and repair an Idaho farmhouse that she inherited. But the home has ghosts, both figurative and literal. In the attic, she discovers the diary of Annie McDonald and gets pulled back into her 1890 world. When Cassie returns to the present, she meets the ghost of Carrington Chambers, Annie’s future husband. Carrington was hung for Annie’s murder, a crime that he didn’t commit. He is a restless spirit who has remained at his former home, refusing to cross over until he finds out the truth about what happened to Annie. He needs Cassie to read Annie’s diary and go back in time to discover the truth about her death. Cassie eventually agrees to help Carrington with his mission despite threats that include Lancaster’s release from prison. In this first installment of her Fate series, McFarland has crafted an admirable heroine in Cassie, who is willing to risk her own life to help Carrington gain some closure. Carrington is also a well-developed character, a twice-convicted murderer in his own time who cares for Cassie’s well-being in the present. This novel manages to be both an intriguing romance and a well-structured mystery, as Cassie tries to uncover who are the friends and foes among Carrington’s acquaintances. But the tale never explains how Carrington manages to maintain a solid physical presence in modern times only to fade away as he gets closer to completing his task. But thanks to the author’s fast-moving narrative, readers are likely to overlook this quibble. What’s more pressing is the increasingly close relationship between Cassie and Carrington, though it seems doomed to be short-lived if they succeed in solving Annie’s murder. What results is a bittersweet and engaging story as Carrington pursues vindication.

An enjoyable tale of reclamation through time travel.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73345-300-4

Page Count: 338

Publisher: Silent K Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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