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




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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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.


In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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