THE DISAPPOINTMENT ROOM

Phelps and Grimes’ debut tells the story of how Charles Knight, the heir apparent to Coffin Point, a large South Carolina plantation, was raised during the supposedly idyllic years before the Civil War.

The tale centers on Madeline Knight’s decision to abandon her disappointing son to the care of Munday, the nurturing “Big House” slave. Munday becomes Charles’ surrogate mother, and her daughter, Helen, is Charles’ only childhood companion. The authors skillfully weave in historical details about slavery, plantation life, national and regional politics as well as a little romance and intrigue. The Southern drawl and slaves’ Gullah dialect add authenticity, as does the presence of witchcraft and other cultural details about slaves and their privileged owners. Some strategic twists and turns hold the reader’s interest, and the characters—with the exception of the status-seeking, power-hungry Madeline—earn the reader’s empathy. Charles, Munday and Helen leave South Carolina for Boston, via war-torn Washington, D.C., where Charles confronts his long-lost mother. This bold step releases him to pursue freedom with his true family. The trio rejoices at their arrival in Boston, but racial segregation and second-class status dim their hope for freedom. Despite his happy marriage to Helen, Charles remains enslaved by dreams of returning to Coffin Point. Their experience brings readers to a new understanding of freedom, nudging us to examine our own forms of slavery—to possessions, power and status. Yet amid this serious thinking, it’s difficult to overlook some of the novel’s shortcomings. The timeline leading up to Ft. Sumter is mixed-up, and it is somewhat hard to believe Charles’ intimate knowledge of the Charleston Harbor given his sheltered upbringing. Straightening out these details and correcting some misspellings and syntax errors will make this enjoyable tale all the more engaging. Initially, the abrupt ending is disappointing, but upon reflection, readers will come to understand the brevity. The period detail, poignant story and credible characters make this a pleasurable, satisfying read. 

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 74

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Did you like this book?

more