Lurid but wildly entertaining urban horror that falls somewhere between Flowers in the Attic and Joe Hill.

MOCKINGBIRD

From the Miriam Black series , Vol. 2

Wendig ups the ante in this second novel about a psychic girl pitted against dark forces, malevolent humans, and the twisty nature of fate.

If readers were intrigued by the introduction of acid-tongued, supernaturally gifted Miriam Black in Wendig’s last novel, this book will really sink its teeth into them. She’s recovering after the traumatic events of Blackbirds (2015), holed up in an old Airstream trailer owned by the truck driver who saved her life. But she’s getting itchy, and the visions she’s having of a dark entity she calls “The Trespasser” aren’t helping. Eventually she’s introduced to Katey, an English teacher at an exclusive all-girls prep school. Katey thinks she’s dying, and Miriam quickly confirms this truth. But when she accidentally bumps into young Lauren “Wren” Martin, a much darker vision occurs to Miriam. “Here’s the poop, little bird,” she says. “I have this power. Like a psychic power? Except not your everyday psychic hoodoo. I can’t levitate shit, I wouldn’t know palm reading from a pile of donkey guts, and tarot cards weird me out a little. But what I can do is touch a person and see how they’re going to die. I saw how you’re going to die. And I don’t want that to happen.” With each turn of the screw, the book pushes readers deeper into the dysfunction of a small town and ratchets up the horror, both paranormal and startlingly human. As before, Miriam isn’t for everyone; she’s extremely profane, her creator absolutely punishes her physically, and she’s not exactly someone to root for. But it’s apparent that Wendig is getting more skilled at his craft here, using better characterization and the same whiplash prose to carve out a story that is not only creepier and equally as propulsive, but is also pushing its heroine toward even worse events in future installments.

Lurid but wildly entertaining urban horror that falls somewhere between Flowers in the Attic and Joe Hill.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5700-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Saga/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Real events like the Vietnam draft and Stonewall uprising enter the characters' family history as well as a stunning plot...

THE RULES OF MAGIC

The Owens sisters are back—not in their previous guise as elderly aunties casting spells in Hoffman’s occult romance Practical Magic (1995), but as fledgling witches in the New York City captured in Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids.

In that magical, mystical milieu, Franny and Bridget are joined by a new character: their foxy younger brother, Vincent, whose “unearthly” charm sends grown women in search of love potions. Heading into the summer of 1960, the three Owens siblings are ever more conscious of their family's quirkiness—and not just the incidents of levitation and gift for reading each other's thoughts while traipsing home to their parents' funky Manhattan town house. The instant Franny turns 17, they are all shipped off to spend the summer with their mother's aunt in Massachusetts. Isabelle Owens might enlist them for esoteric projects like making black soap or picking herbs to cure a neighbor's jealousy, but she at least offers respite from their fretful mother's strict rules against going shoeless, bringing home stray birds, wandering into Greenwich Village, or falling in love. In short order, the siblings meet a know-it-all Boston cousin, April, who brings them up to speed on the curse set in motion by their Salem-witch ancestor, Maria Owens. It spells certain death for males who attempt to woo an Owens woman. Naturally this knowledge does not deter the current generation from circumventing the rule—Bridget most passionately, Franny most rationally, and Vincent most recklessly (believing his gender may protect him). In time, the sisters ignore their mother's plea and move to Greenwich Village, setting up an apothecary, while their rock-star brother, who glimpsed his future in Isabelle’s nifty three-way mirror, breaks hearts like there's no tomorrow. No one's more confident or entertaining than Hoffman at putting across characters willing to tempt fate for true love.

Real events like the Vietnam draft and Stonewall uprising enter the characters' family history as well as a stunning plot twist—delivering everything fans of a much-loved book could hope for in a prequel.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3747-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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