A charming and inventive tale with a brave heroine confronting romance and dangerous entities.

Eerie

A young woman must deal with a missing sister and a peculiar university in this debut paranormal adventure.

Hailey’s life is not quite what it seems. She works with her sister Holly as a waitress at her family’s pub in Pittsburgh, dancing for the crowd and teasing the friendly bartender, Fin. The bar is a popular local spot run by her Uncle Pix, who has taken care of the sisters since their parents died in a fire. In her dreams, Hailey sees a strange being named Asher. When Holly disappears, the normal veneer of Hailey’s life begins to evaporate. She learns Asher is an Envoy, responsible for ferrying souls from the earthly world to the other side. He and his fellow Envoys are trapped in a realm between heaven and Earth, and Hailey’s death would allow them to return home. One in particular, Cobon, is plotting to see this happen. Hailey’s life changes when she leaves Pittsburgh for a university in The Middle of Nowhere, Alaska, where she learns of the paranormal world she’s about to become a bigger part of. Fin is not what he seems either—he and Asher are both part of the university. And they both want to protect her, but they’re at odds with each other, creating a complicated love triangle with Hailey’s life hanging in the balance. There are obvious parallels to the Harry Potter series and the YA novels that followed in its wake. Hailey has to suddenly come to grips with a perilous new world and finds out she’s more special than she thought she was. The university is populated with weird and wonderful characters, just as Hogwarts was in the Potter books. But McCoy has been careful to create her own mythology, familiar enough to draw in readers and unique enough to keep their interest. In Alaska, there are people-eating trees, yetis, and poltergeists. The Envoys can be terrible beasts, but Asher’s struggle with his love for a human becomes compelling. Hailey is a strong character even when she doesn’t realize it, which gives her an inviting vulnerability. And the revelations surrounding Fin as his story unfolds make for some delightful surprises. There are a lot of facets to recommend here, chief among them McCoy’s worldbuilding ability and characters readers will surely want to see again.

A charming and inventive tale with a brave heroine confronting romance and dangerous entities.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62342-232-5

Page Count: 434

Publisher: Omnific Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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