An affected and pathetic narrative—nothing would be lost by confining it to the ninth circle of Hell.


Any narrative that begins “Burn this book” definitely merits attention—unfortunately, readers would be much better off were they to heed this advice.

The novel starts in Hell, so there’s literally nowhere to go but up. The demon Jakabok Botch, also the narrator, introduces us to his sadistic and dysfunctional family. Botch wants to ingratiate himself with his mother by inventing “the first mechanical disemboweler.” Shortly thereafter he is horribly disfigured in (go figure) a fire and winds up with no nose and no lips. Soon Botch and his father, Pappy Gatmuss, succumb to the temptation of steak and beer, but this turns out to be bait from the Upper (i.e. our) World. Although they’re both hauled up in a net through the nine circles of Hell, only Botch makes it up alive. To disguise his demonhood, he wears clothes that cover his devilish aberration, two tails. In the Upper World he links up with Quitoon, an elder demon who’s even more adept at evil than Botch. For 38 years they travel around the countryside, doing (as we would expect) repulsive things like burning people (Quitoon’s specialty) and taking baths in the blood of infants. Eventually they meet Johannes Gutenberg, of printing-press fame, and his wife Hannah, who turns out to be an angel and hence an arch-enemy of Botch and his homoerotic friend. An overfed and puffed-up archbishop is also revealed to be on the side of the devil. During an apocalyptic battle between Hannah and the archbishop, Botch inadvertently puts his finger (claw?) on the problem: “Everyone continued to watch them as they carved up Humankind’s future…the whole thing, for all its Great Significance and so on and so forth, was actually beginning to bore me.” Exactly.

An affected and pathetic narrative—nothing would be lost by confining it to the ninth circle of Hell.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-018298-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 13

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?