Imaginative and vicious, overflowing with sinister creations and a monumental struggle.

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God War

BOOK 3: SAGA OF THE NEW GODS

The third book in Black’s (The Death of Magic, 2013, etc.) epic urban fantasy series about a world of magic turned upside down.

This installment in the Saga of the New Gods sees a number of characters from prior books in ever more dire circumstances. In Book 1, a group of friends unleashed the mayhem of Dungeons and Dragons onto the real world; that mayhem continued and expanded in Book 2. This volume sees a deeper descent into a world populated by magical figures: nymphs (who “did not, in fact, live on sex”), Thor, a six-legged mutant cat named Mr. Mephistopheles, and more. There’s also an encroaching darkness known as the Abyss, home of the Dark Lord and other nefarious entities. Failure, as one character explains, means “all the world will be swallowed up in chaos and darkness for all eternity.” Thanks to the influx of magic, once-normal people have traded in their old personalities for fantastical ones, such as Dr. Mathias Dent, a medical researcher from prior books who now heads the Dark Lord’s research teams. The book takes readers to mythical, gory, and downright strange places. It’s frequently graphic—“The disgusting sound of crunching bones, and the wafting smell of blood from the other diner in his office, nearly ended his evening meal with his partially digested lunch all over his desk”—and always magical: “Magical energies crackled along his body, spitting and arcing out and to the ground.” There’s no shortage of novel creations, though some details may prove too over-the-top even for fantasy die-hards, as with Mr. Mephistopheles, who, once an alley cat, becomes “a great six-legged cat with two long whip-like tentacles that came out from his shoulders.” Dialogue can likewise seem a bit overcooked on occasion—“No, NO, NOOOO!!”—but fans of darker worlds à la Terry Brooks are likely to find portions to enjoy.

Imaginative and vicious, overflowing with sinister creations and a monumental struggle.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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

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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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