Complex and multilayered, this novel opens the door to the possibilities of noncolonial worlds.

A RIVER CALLED TIME

In an alternate London in which colonialism never existed, the Ark holds the promise of salvation, but at what cost?

Markriss Denny grows up in the city of Dinium, dominated by the Ark, built to provide sanctuary from the crumbling, polluted world outside. For most, admission to the Ark is an impossibility, but Markriss’ mother pushes him to succeed in school, a pursuit that distances him from Nesta, his best friend, but does result in a one-way ticket to the Inner City. There, Markriss learns that the Ark is not the haven advertised, that it contains deep inequalities that mirror the world outside. Markriss, nevertheless, is content with the role laid out for him until a strange encounter on the astral plane—similar to ones he experienced as a child—reveals that he has a rare ability to "move between spiritual and physical states." He's told by an ancestor that there's another being like himself, but one who's evil, whose existence threatens everything. Given the task of finding this "dark spirit," Markriss begins a journey between parallel Londons. Incorporating African cosmology, and in particular Kemetism, Newland explores a noncolonial London that adopted African beliefs and values, juxtaposing this alternate—yet also flawed—London with our own. On the heady levels of twisting timelines and spirit planes, this novel excels, revealing Markriss in all the worlds he traverses. There is little time left, however, to explore his connection to other characters, including the pivotal women in his life and Nesta. This is an ambitiously imagined book that, by removing the European lens on African cultures, creates a new reality that allows us to question how we view our own.

Complex and multilayered, this novel opens the door to the possibilities of noncolonial worlds.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61775-926-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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