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The Children of Darkness

From the The Seekers series , Vol. 1

A tightly executed first fantasy installment that champions the exploratory spirit.

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Litwack (The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, 2014) begins a new fantasy series about a post-apocalyptic future run by religious fanatics.

In the quiet village of Little Pond, Nathaniel, Thomas, and Orah are teenage friends on the verge of adulthood. What responsibilities will they shoulder in their rural society, which frowns upon music, forbids unsanctioned books, and discourages imagination? As tradition dictates, a vicar arrives from the Temple of Light to choose someone among the new adults who needs a “teaching,” a mysterious ritual from which the chosen return quite somber. Although Nathaniel dreams of adventure and wants to see the magical Temple City, the vicar chooses Thomas instead. It turns out that the teaching process involves solitary confinement and other mental manipulations to crush people’s wills and keep the villagers from flirting with “darkness.” Soon after Thomas returns as a dead-eyed husk, Nathaniel learns of the temple’s true nature; when the vicars take Orah, Nathaniel is outraged, so he travels to Temple City and offers to take the girl’s place. While temporarily confined, he meets another prisoner named Samuel, who explains that the temple’s magic actually came from a prior society that prized individual freedom and creativity. Somewhere, he says, is a hidden keep full of wonders, and if it’s found by the right person, its secrets could start a revolution. As Litwack opens his meticulously crafted new series, he aids his righteous protagonists with a series of magical scrolls, written clues, and cooperative “keepers.” He effectively describes how the Temple of Light uses doublespeak to praise its monoculture and vilify the era of darkness, in which “people spoke different languages and worshipped different gods.” The author never veers into zealotry himself, however, always exploring both sides of the progress-versus-security argument (“Perhaps the quest for knowledge brought change faster than it could be assimilated,” muses a vicar). Orah, meanwhile, provides the soul of the narrative: a young woman who’s wistful and optimistic by turns and who understands that although “nothing can compete with childhood,” there’s no going back.

A tightly executed first fantasy installment that champions the exploratory spirit.

Pub Date: June 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62253-434-0

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Evolved Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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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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