Fine fantasy that borrows too much from Lewis Carroll when it should invest in itself.

WATERSPELL

BOOK 1: THE WARLOCK

A teenage girl runs away from her life of servitude only to be captured by a sorcerer who will help her discover her true past.

When Carin sets out north, heeding the words of the village wise woman, she’s not sure what to expect, but she hopes the pull northward will shed some light on her mysterious past. On her travels, she mistakenly crosses into the lands of the sorcerer Lord Verek. He’s insulted by her trespass, but his anger is tempered by his shock at her imperviousness to his spells. So, Verek invites Carin back to his home for further study. There, he gives her the task of organizing his personal library, which holds the secret to Carin’s true origins: a copy of the book Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll that only Carin can read. She discovers the book might actually be a relic from a life and time she has forgotten—a separate world parallel from the one they live in. Together, Carin and Verek attempt to harness the power of “Jabberwocky”—a poem from Carroll’s book that, when recited, opens a magical portal for Carin to step through. Carin and Verek’s well-crafted relationship balances in a tense power struggle due to Verek’s questionable motives, while other characters—a chatty housekeeper, a wise wood sprite, an enigmatic elfin gardener—are sympathetic and engaging. Though Lightfoot is a capable writer, the plot of this first novel in the proposed trilogy moves along sluggishly at times because of many scenes oversaturated by extensive dialogue. In the end, Lightfoot also relies too heavily on Lewis Carroll’s imagination. Taking inspiration from Alice’s story and alluding to it is tolerable, if unsurprising, but in Lightfoot’s case, her strong start, intriguing premise and original characters could carry more weight if Lightfoot had continued in her own world-building rather than following Carroll so closely down his rabbit hole.

Fine fantasy that borrows too much from Lewis Carroll when it should invest in itself.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2011

ISBN: 978-0972876841

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Seven Rivers

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2012

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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