A masterful tale that illuminates terrifying creatures in Caribbean lore.


In Sandy’s debut fantasy novel, the last surviving member of a Trinidad-based group must stop evil from sweeping civilization.

Trinidadian Le Clerc is a member of the Order, which hunts paranormal menaces from a magical realm called the Grey. On a recent mission in the Paria forest, Rohan—along with his cousin Dorian; his grandfather Isa; and fellow Orderman Kimani—battled the werewolflike lagahoo. All the members of the group were killed except for Rohan despite the fact that all had enhanced senses, stamina, and reflexes. Now he’s the last living member of Stone House, which works alongside Wood and River Houses under the guidance of the Watchers’ Council. They keep track of breaches from the Grey into humanity’s realm, known as the Absolute. (A third realm, the Ether, contains heaven and hell.) The morning after laying his relatives to rest, Rohan patrols the trails surrounding Stone House. He’s shadowed by Voss Prakash, who was sent by the Watchers to protect Rohan until he can appear before the Council to report on Isa, Dorian, and Kimani (whose body, it turns out, is missing). At the Council’s behest, Rohan and Voss join forces with Lisa Cyrus, an inexperienced seer. Together they must stop Lucian, an “obeah man,” or sorcerer, who wants to merge the Grey and the Absolute, pitting humanity against primal forces. Sandy crafts a ghoulish tale from elements of Caribbean folklore and shows a great love for gory action. History plays a vital role, as well, as scenes set in the early 19th century depict plantation culture and add weight to the brief appearance of Katharine, a helpful “soucouyant,” or blood-drinker. Characters such as Tarik Abban, a young pickpocket, and Clarence Jeremy, a terminally ill sex worker, represent more realistic horrors of city life. The author truly excels, however, in his meticulous plotting involving supernatural elements. Artifacts such as teleportation boxes and creatures such as the gigantic Moongazers generate entertaining mayhem. There are also moments of unnerving prose, as when “Fat grubs with black beady heads” were “hitting the ground...like rain on leaves,” which make this an unforgettable read—and Sandy, a name to watch.

A masterful tale that illuminates terrifying creatures in Caribbean lore.

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73382-993-9

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Caribbean Reads Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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