A spooky, strange, and enjoyable supernatural novel.

THE TOOTH FAIRY

Tarsitano offers a macabre tale of terror and teeth.

At the opening of this psychological thriller, Johnny Hawk is tied to an old dentist’s chair in a basement, terrified and injured, horrified that his “teeth were gone—and not the ones that were supposed to go.” Readers learn through flashbacks and chapters told from other characters’ points of view that Hawk’s life was thrown into chaos after he discovered his wife was having an affair with another man, leaving him feeling like “a voiceless spectator in a red-light theatre that was playing the movie about the failure of his life.” He eventually heads out toward Los Angeles by car, picking up a hitchhiker and friend along the way, before crossing paths in New Mexico with dentist Wendy Jag after a painful tooth causes him to nearly crash his car. Readers soon learn that she’s actually the novel’s titular character—a sadistic, evil being. Tarsitano’s debut novel unfolds largely in fictional Copper City, which one supporting character describes as cursed; it holds many dark secrets and is, in some ways, reminiscent of Stephen King’s Castle Rock, Maine. Readers of suspense will enjoy Jag’s unnerving backstory as well as the friendships between Hawk and some of the other supporting characters (particularly Jamie, the hitchhiker). Some elements will specifically remind readers of The Shining (1977) and The Dark Half (1989), including its creepy talismans, such as an object left at Jag’s father’s gravesite, “a small pearl, lodged in a thin strip of fresh dirt,” that turns out to be a child’s tooth. There’s some solid horror writing here, with a style that has considerable bite.

A spooky, strange, and enjoyable supernatural novel.

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-578-38595-2

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A moody tone hangs like a cloud over the alarming but vague danger awaiting the world.

THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD

A tragedy has sent a young artist into seclusion. A potential apocalypse may be enough to bring her back.

For the past two years, 10 months, and 18 days, Katie’s lived in darkness, on retreat from her former life as a rising artist after a personal tragedy eclipsed any happiness she believed possible. Jacob’s Ladder, a remote island named by a former resident for its potential as a stairway to heaven, offers Katie the chance to hide from the rest of the world, merely existing, not healing. She lives each day trying to fulfill what she’s called “the Promise” to those in the life she once knew, though a promise of what is not clear. The closest neighboring islands, Oak Haven and Ringrock, are equally cloistered. Though Katie’s realtor has suggested that Ringrock is some sort of Environmental Protection Agency research station, Katie’s cynicism makes her suspect something more nefarious. The protagonist's remote world and the author’s moody writing are disrupted one night by the startling appearance of drones and the suspicious behavior of a fox Katie’s dubbed Michael J. The wary canine serves as a harbinger of potential danger, and Katie responds by arming herself to the hilt when unexpected guests descend on Jacob’s Ladder. While the true purpose of these visitors is unclear, Katie senses that the greater world is at the precipice of permanent collapse and that she may be the only one who can prevent the impending apocalypse.

A moody tone hangs like a cloud over the alarming but vague danger awaiting the world.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-6625-0044-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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

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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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