Smart, original, and scary as hell.

REVELATOR

A bootlegger tries to kill her family's god in this gripping horror novel.

As a teenager during the Great Depression, Stella Wallace couldn’t wait to escape the Smoky Mountain valley where she was raised by her grandmother, Motty. Her fantasy of escaping is understandable—she comes from a family that worships their own god, a ghostly apparition called Ghostdaddy who lives in a mountain. Stella meets the god for the first time when she’s 9 and is struck with a sense of “wonder so deep it was almost adoration”—but the charm of the god wears off as she realizes it’s more sinister than she first thought. Fifteen years later, Stella, now a brash bootlegger working in nearby Alcoa, Tennessee, gets word that Motty has died, and her thoughts immediately turn to Sunny, her 10-year-old cousin. Stella’s scared that Sunny will be adopted by Motty’s scheming brother, Hendrick, and that he’ll try to get the young girl to commune with the god the way that Stella once did, all in service of his Church of the God in the Mountain. Stella wants to rescue Sunny and kill the sinister god, but Hendrick will stop at nothing to gain control of the girl. Gregory’s novel is packed to the gills with action and suspense, and he has an enviable skill for characterization—the reader feels a connection with Stella, a complex woman who “had learned to do a passable impersonation of a normal person,” and even, at times, with the irascible Motty. The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee become a character as well, and Gregory writes about them beautifully. This is an excellent work of horror, perfectly structured and dark as a Tennessee night.

Smart, original, and scary as hell.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-65738-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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