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THE BOOK OF ACCIDENTS

A grade-A, weirdly comforting, and familiar stew of domestic drama, slasher horror, and primeval evil.

A family that's banished itself to the woods of rural Pennsylvania finds more than they bargained for when supernatural forces decide they would make quite a snack.

Prolific and delightfully profane, Wendig pulled off a good trick last time with his sprawling, inventive, and prescient apocalypse chronicle, Wanderers (2019). This is another doorstopper, but here he returns to macabre horror reminiscent of his supernatural Miriam Black novels, injected with a juicy dose of Stephen King–like energy. An eerie opening introduces Edmund Walker Reese, a serial killer strapped into Pennsylvania’s electric chair circa 1990 for murdering four girls—a killer who disappears the second the switch is flipped. In the present day, former Philly cop Nate Graves is stewing over the death of his abusive father, who's left him a home in the woods. Maddie, Nate’s artist wife, thinks it’s perfect for her work, not to mention a natural refuge for their hypersensitive son, Oliver, who's imbued with not only a preternatural empathy for others, but also a gift for lending the pained some solace. At Nate's new job as a Fish and Game officer, his partner, Axel Figeroa, always has one eye open for trouble because of their proximity to Ramble Rocks, where Reese committed his dirty deeds, as does the Graves' neighbor Jed Homackie, a whiskey-drinking peacenik with secrets of his own. As happens, things get weird. Nate starts seeing his dead father around every corner. Maddie experiences fugue states that aren’t simpatico with her newfound predilection for chainsaw sculpture. Oliver gets the worst of it, finding himself caught between a couple of vicious bullies and a newfound frenemy, Jake, who quickly emerges as someone­­­­—or something—far darker than he appears. The characters are eccentric and likable even if their plight isn’t quite unpredictable, and the book will be catnip to horror fans, complete with meddling kids, doppelgangers, dimensional fissures, demons, and ghosts; it's a prototypical edge-of-your-seat plunge into real terror.

A grade-A, weirdly comforting, and familiar stew of domestic drama, slasher horror, and primeval evil.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-18213-6

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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HIDDEN PICTURES

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

A disturbing household secret has far-reaching consequences in this dark, unusual ghost story.

Mallory Quinn, fresh out of rehab and recovering from a recent tragedy, has taken a job as a nanny for an affluent couple living in the upscale suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey, when a series of strange events start to make her (and her employers) question her own sanity. Teddy, the precocious and shy 5-year-old boy she's charged with watching, seems to be haunted by a ghost who channels his body to draw pictures that are far too complex and well formed for such a young child. At first, these drawings are rather typical: rabbits, hot air balloons, trees. But then the illustrations take a dark turn, showcasing the details of a gruesome murder; the inclusion of the drawings, which start out as stick figures and grow increasingly more disturbing and sophisticated, brings the reader right into the story. With the help of an attractive young gardener and a psychic neighbor and using only the drawings as clues, Mallory must solve the mystery of the house's grizzly past before it's too late. Rekulak does a great job with character development: Mallory, who narrates in the first person, has an engaging voice; the Maxwells' slightly overbearing parenting style and passive-aggressive quips feel very familiar; and Teddy is so three-dimensional that he sometimes feels like a real child.

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81934-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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THE GOD OF ENDINGS

A new and contemplative take on the vampire novel.

Following a vampire across more than 200 years, this novel considers “whether this world and life in it is a kindness or an unkindness, a blessing or a curse.”

At the age of 10, Anna faces illness and death daily as an epidemic sweeps through her town. After the deaths of her father and brother, and when she's at her sickest, her grandfather arrives. Just as she’s about to succumb to the illness that killed her whole family, he transforms her into a vampire like himself. When she asks him why he did it, he replies: “This world, my dear child, all of it, right to the very end if there is to be an end, is a gift. But it’s a gift few are strong enough to receive. I made a judgment that you might be among those strong few, that you might be better served on this side of things than the other. I thought you might find some use for the world, and it for you.” The years that follow are difficult and often wrought with loss for Anna. She lives many lives over the centuries and eventually takes on the name Collette LaSange, opening a French preschool in Millstream Hollow, New York. Chapters alternate between Anna’s life beginning in the 1830s and her current life in 1984 as Collette. Notable points of tension arise when Collette tries unsuccessfully to sate her hunger, which is becoming increasingly unbearable, and as her interest in the artistic growth of a student named Leo deepens. Through decadently vivid prose—which could have been streamlined at times—this hefty novel meditates on major themes such as life, love, and death with exceptional acumen. The final questions in the book—“How presumptuous is the gift of life? What arrogance is implicit in the act of love that calls another into existence?”—serve as an anchor to meditations on these themes found throughout.

A new and contemplative take on the vampire novel.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250856760

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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