A time-travel treat with a captivating hero.


A novel focuses on the adventures of an attorney facing a midlife crisis.

Nyznyk’s (The First Gospel, 2017, etc.) protagonist, Jack Darrow, a 50-something lawyer, is mired in ennui: “Maybe by fifty, the real world has so overwhelmed a man that dreams disappear and hopes for adventure, romance, and excitement fade into the mundane reality of everyday life.” Not even the love of his beautiful wife, Julia, and his family is enough to bring Jack out of his funk. So, in a self-indulgent effort to find himself, he goes on a camping trip with old friend Paul Dickson. Unfortunately, the pair soon runs afoul of a trio of brothers straight out of Deliverance. Running for their lives, Jack and Paul hide in a cave only to have it collapse on them and their pursuers. When Jack awakes in the long-ago land of Estandor, he rescues an attractive woman being pursued by a dark knight. The wounded Jack, now back in his college-age body, is taken in by rebels opposed to the rule of the ruthless Cormac Canhagin, which is enforced by his Black Guard. Figuring that he’s stuck in the past, the protagonist throws in with the rebels seeking to overthrow Cormac, even after Jack gets captured. Meanwhile, in the present, Julia and family adjust to life without Jack. Nyznyk has crafted an effective cautionary tale. Characterization is strong in this enjoyable spin on Outlander in which Jack falls for the beautiful Kara but can’t forget his life with Julia. Likewise, Julia can’t move on from soul mate Jack. Cormac is a venal, entitled nobleman who has crushed the humanity out of his head knight, Silver Glen, known as The Dread to his leader’s downtrodden subjects. The best parts of the smooth-flowing narrative are the Estandor scenes and backstory, which take on the flavor of an Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp novel as man-out-of-his-time Jack rallies the rebels. The modern-day scenes, too many of which center on whether the neighborhood lecher will successfully seduce Julia, aren’t nearly as engrossing. But the tale works because readers will become invested in hoping that the new, improved Jack gets his happy ending.

A time-travel treat with a captivating hero.

Pub Date: April 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73358-560-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Cross Dove Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2019

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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