Gabaldon works a successful formula, with few surprises but plenty of devices. And yes, there’s room for a sequel—or 10.

READ REVIEW

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD

From the Outlander series , Vol. 8

Of haggis, gigged frogs and succubi: Continuing her Outlander series, Gabaldon (An Echo in the Bone, 2009, etc.) again pushes the boundaries of genre fiction.

Sensitive readers new to the series will want to know that Gabaldon’s leads are fond of dropping f-bombs, sometimes even in the clinical sense: “Damn you, neither one of us was making love to the other—we were both fucking you!" They’ll also want to know that, as those characters cross time and space, they’re given to the basest treacheries as well as the profoundest loyalties, which may help explain the preceding quotation. The action now takes place across the water in revolutionary America, where Jamie Fraser, one-time Jacobite rebel, now commands 10 companies of Continental militia, when, he worriedly notes, “he’d never led a band of more than fifty.” Lord John, his old Brit friend and sometime bugaboo, figures in the mischief, of course. There are twists aplenty, one of them Jamie’s Lazarus-like return from the great beyond to find—well, different domestic arrangements. Meanwhile, his child, having long since learned that it’s possible to enter “a time vortex with a gemstone” and come out safely in other eras, now has good reason to want to be not in the 20th century but back in the 18th, where, if things are just as complicated, she at least has trustworthy kin. Confused yet? With willingly suspended disbelief, it all makes sense in the end. Gabaldon’s themes are decidedly grown-up, as the in-joking chapter titles (“Frottage,” “Frannie’s Frenulum”) suggest, but the basic premise is a dash of juvenile fantasy, a jigger of historical fact and heaping helpings of counterfactuals. If you’re a Gabaldon fan, the Scottish dialect, laid on with a spade, and all those naughty asides will be a familiar pleasure. If not—well, this overly long book isn’t likely to make converts, at least not without several thousand pages of catch-up to figure out who’s who, who’s doing what, who’s doing whom, and why.

Gabaldon works a successful formula, with few surprises but plenty of devices. And yes, there’s room for a sequel—or 10.

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-34443-2

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE NIGHT CIRCUS

Self-assured, entertaining debut novel that blends genres and crosses continents in quest of magic.

The world’s not big enough for two wizards, as Tolkien taught us—even if that world is the shiny, modern one of the late 19th century, with its streetcars and electric lights and newfangled horseless carriages. Yet, as first-time novelist Morgenstern imagines it, two wizards there are, if likely possessed of more legerdemain than true conjuring powers, and these two are jealous of their turf. It stands to reason, the laws of the universe working thus, that their children would meet and, rather than continue the feud into a new generation, would instead fall in love. Call it Romeo and Juliet for the Gilded Age, save that Morgenstern has her eye on a different Shakespearean text, The Tempest; says a fellow called Prospero to young magician Celia of the name her mother gave her, “She should have named you Miranda...I suppose she was not clever enough to think of it.” Celia is clever, however, a born magician, and eventually a big hit at the Circus of Dreams, which operates, naturally, only at night and has a slightly sinister air about it. But what would you expect of a yarn one of whose chief setting-things-into-action characters is known as “the man in the grey suit”? Morgenstern treads into Harry Potter territory, but though the chief audience for both Rowling and this tale will probably comprise of teenage girls, there are only superficial genre similarities. True, Celia’s magical powers grow, and the ordinary presto-change-o stuff gains potency—and, happily, surrealistic value. Finally, though, all the magic has deadly consequence, and it is then that the tale begins to take on the contours of a dark thriller, all told in a confident voice that is often quite poetic, as when the man in the grey suit tells us, “There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.” Generous in its vision and fun to read. Likely to be a big book—and, soon, a big movie, with all the franchise trimmings.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-53463-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

more