A baggy but sometimes-entertaining tale of supernaturalism.



A shambolic faith healer, a hard-charging billionaire, psychic mediums, and recycled souls collide in Fiorentino’s debut paranormal tale.

In 2016, Barbara Hewitt is a leather-clad, Learjet-piloting, profanity-spewing satellite-company mogul and philanthropist in California. When her mother, Elena, who’s suffering from leukemia, goes into terminal decline, she seeks out Michael Chase, a “hands-on touch healer,” whom a friend recommends. It turns out that Michael is a former hot dog vendor and current newspaper deliverer living on the Jersey Shore, who spends his free time watching old baseball games; his healing technique consists of playing pop tunes, laying his curiously warm hands on ailing body parts, and placing a baseball cap on his client’s head. When Michael weepily declines to travel to Elena, due to his fear of flying, Barbara dismisses him as a “sullen and disheveled dolt.” Barbara and Michael have a funny, crackling clash of temperaments, social statuses, and worldviews. However, Fiorentino keeps the two apart for most of the novel, instead focusing on the spiritualist entourage that surrounds Michael, which includes psychic Agnes Cunningham and her sidekick, Twyla Brown. Agnes believes that Michael’s body hosts the soul of Phillip, a Confederate soldier, and that she hosts that of Phillip’s sweetheart, Sarah. It turns out that the soul of the evil Dr. Stone, whom Twyla has sworn to destroy, may be targeting Michael, as well. Fiorentino’s yarn intriguingly juxtaposes these quirky, vibrant characters. However, the fragmented plot feels overstuffed with their feckless story arcs. The action often centers on bizarre rituals in which naked spiritualists get fondled by other spiritualists; there’s also a session in which Michael treats a writer’s uncontrollable priapism. Much space is taken up by characters studying and discussing Agnes’ “Soular” theories about complex hierarchies of souls—“Quintessents” are the most exalted—and the obscure mechanics by which they enter people, which all feels pedantic (“So, while both Multi-Soular and Semi-Soular individuals can possess a Conduit to Eternity, the difference is that in Bi- or Multi-Soular individuals the Conduit is irreversible”). Restless readers may find that they lack the patience to persist.

A baggy but sometimes-entertaining tale of supernaturalism.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64669-331-3

Page Count: 476

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.


In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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