Imaginative flourishes perk up old tropes in Roselle’s debut novel, a slowly wheeling blend of intrigue, teen drama, fantasy and fun.
The Cobalt Domain, a magical land separate from yet linked to our own, is divided into nine distinct, color-coded “Darus.” Milo Davenport has spent her life studying them, looking for a way to get back to our world. She’s on her way to find a gateway home when the Yellow Daru is disturbed by the arrival of Cassandra “Casey” Campbell. The Cobalt Domain has been unstable since a despot named Pioneer began an attempt to subjugate the entire Domain under his rule. He and his minion, Shady, have the power to morph dissidents into harmless creatures. Pioneer is desperate to capture Milo so as to end her status as a secret hero and beacon of hope for the so-called Partisans he subjugates. Casey, however, just might throw a wrench in those plans, as Milo recruits her for a mission of utmost importance: to carry vital knowledge to Jake Lancaster, a fellow dissident seeking a way to save his wife and son from Pioneer. Casey will have to navigate treacherous terrain, political unrest and an alien world if she is to ever have a chance of seeing home again. Casey’s adventures are painted in fast-moving, easy-to-read prose divided into digestible chapters. Unfortunately, the story ends up too far on the side of simplicity. Dialogue often reads more as an adult’s idea of how teenagers talk—“Well…I don’t have all day to sit here and wait for you to decide whether or not I’m really a Yellow”—and the villains, Pioneer and Shady, lean toward being caricatured. The plot is smooth and the story’s nevertheless entertaining. Casey’s budding relationship, the small details of worldbuilding—calling an hour a “flux,” a glow a “month,” etc.)—and many of the minor “morph” characters stand out as particularly enjoyable.

Solid YA fantasy that, in spite of a few rough patches, should appeal to fans of the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1496055514

Page Count: 440

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 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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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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This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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