A worthy twisting of fantasy and history.

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THE EXILE

A masterful melding of fantasy, history, thriller and full-throttle action.

Washington’s debut work weaves multiple storylines from across time and space into a gripping, unflagging epic. The star and narrator is college professor Mark North, whose introductory dream, violent and otherworldly, signals a past and demons that are anything but ordinary. Evidence soon mounts that his waking self isn’t exactly normal, either. He launches his own rogue investigation after a colleague is accused of sexual improprieties with students. What is initially presented as academic politics mushrooms into centuries-old intrigue, flinging North from a fictional northeastern university across centuries, continents, worlds and back. The journeys link the same core players: Knights Templar, secret societies, and deadly demons hellbent on entering and dominating this realm. Their machinations mix with campus scandals, historical battles, artifacts with special properties, ritual sacrifice, martial arts, shifting allegiances and interdimensional travel, all laden with double-dealing and physical desire. Little of this is beyond North’s ken, though he’s no Indiana Jones with a bullwhip. That initial dream hinted at more than the state of his psyche, and he meets each assailant, acquaintance and magic spell with a readiness, knowledge and prowess. In the vividly detailed fight scenes, he’s an enigmatic, engrossing action hero with enough personality flaws (anger and vengeance being high on the list) and attitude to maintain appeal. Washington offers intelligent language and an impressive command of storytelling, heavy on whiplash-inducing plot turns, while the voluminous appendix recognizes the challenge of so many characters and exotic names. A few questions are left unanswered, which will only whet the appetite for more. 

A worthy twisting of fantasy and history.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615784755

Page Count: 454

Publisher: Craig D.\Washington

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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