Another appealing series outing with plenty of fix-it energy.

DEAD TIME

From the Between Two Evils series , Vol. 3

A hidden underground city and its time machine may be the key to survival for a future Earth in this third novel in a series.

In an alternate version of Earth that’s similar to our own, but 30 years in the future, the Doomsday Virus has killed nearly every mammal, and the last humans live in scattered biodomes. Diego Nadales, a time traveler from our own Earth, is immune, and his blood could help provide the basis for a vaccine. At the close of the last book, he was traveling with 18-year-old Shannon Malia Kai, a brilliant engineer, from Colorado to better-equipped labs at a Chesapeake Bay biodome (“C-Bay”). Then she was kidnapped by the residents of a Christian fundamentalist dome; it’s rumored that they’ve murdered all the disobedient women there. Shannon musters her considerable wits to survive, while her mother, Dr. Lani Kai, searches for the underground city that holds a hope for saving humanity. David Kirk, the powerful leader of C-Bay, promises help—even though, on our Earth, his counterpart, Dave Kirkland, has only caused problems for Diego. Here, Kirk is married to Bella Sanborn, the woman Diego loves. However, the fate of the multiverse depends on Diego getting back to Isabella, which his original, failed time-travel mission was supposed to bring about. Then a note (in a man-made meteor) tells Diego to “Locate the Mountain. Use the machine. Find her. You have 15 days until it’s too late.” Orton (Lost Time, 2016, etc.) writes another intriguing entry in his ongoing series. Shannon’s adventures, in particular, make for exciting reading, especially when she and her young husband (from a forced marriage) venture into a kind of outback. It turns out that he’s not the monster she feared, and the author handles their relationship with tenderness. However, as with previous books, it’s not the romances that garner the most interest. Shannon lives by her scientist father-figure Matt Hudson’s dictum—“Identify the problem, engineer a fix, and Bob’s your uncle”—and seeing several characters put this principle into action is highly satisfying. Readers will want to stick around for a future entry.

Another appealing series outing with plenty of fix-it energy.

Pub Date: April 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-941368-15-2

Page Count: 396

Publisher: Rocky Mountain Press

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2019

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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 charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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