A dense but entertaining first novel in a planned fantasy series.

FORESHADOW

Clay (Vector Theory and the Plot Structures of Literature and Drama, 2005) takes readers into a fantasy world steeped in tradition.

In this novel, magic and dragons are commonplace, gods and goddesses take an active role in the lives of mortals, and poets are high-ranking, powerful individuals. The story opens with the birth of the princess Tristabe-airta, and follows the young girl as she grows up, recounting her education and the events and antics of the royal household. Her mother dies early, and Tristabe-airta is raised by different caregivers. Her father, the king, adores her but takes a less active parenting role, as he’s kept busy by his royal duties; he also sometimes takes the form of a dragon and pursues occasional romances. The girl’s uncle, the Lord High Poet, is also involved in her upbringing, however. A large, colorful cast of royal household members and royal subjects add both humor and drama to Tristabe-airta’s tale. An age-old story of interpersonal relations lies at the heart of this story, although readers must wade through flowery language and a dense mythology (“Now that Freyzun was king and Throne of Allsongs and Prince Gawain a returned penitent, one of those two sibling ollaves was lately dead, leaving a baby in memento of her love of her kingly husband”) to find it. The novel includes appendices at the back of the book to help readers keep the many characters straight, as well as the different seasons and days, traditions and customs, and dragons and deities. The highly episodic plot describes a series of challenges that beset the young princess and the kingdom at large as she learns how to wield her magical powers, as when the Princess Burta, the daughter of the king’s cousin, is kidnapped, and Tristab-airta cooly saves her by making her invisible. The story’s distant, third-person narration is prone to somewhat fanciful stylistic flourishes (“The ominous stillness was broken by a pretty trilling of a morning dove”) that tend to slow down the narrative. There are many humorous elements, however—including the fact that every character, from the king to the servants, seems to place a high value on cuteness—which add levity to an otherwise complex tale. Although the book ends on a down note, it promises more books to come.

A dense but entertaining first novel in a planned fantasy series.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2014

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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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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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