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PROPHET REBORN

From the Perfect Prophet series , Vol. 2

A dark but exhilarating tale of black magic and religious fanatics.

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In this supernatural sequel, a faith healer and his son become targets of a dangerous, misguided man searching for redemption.

As part of a satanic cult’s prophecy, a man named Lucas attempted to kill death-metal guitarist Alec Lowell. But Alec survived and became a popular evangelical faith healer. Lucas escaped arrest and lived on the streets until finding surprising solace at a Christian commune somewhere in the Southwestern United States. Now he believes that to prove his “spiritual worth,” he’ll have to save someone. He tracks down and kidnaps Alec’s son, Jake. Lucas is convinced that the boy, as the son of a false prophet, deserves salvation. The Rev. Jonas Adonis, the commune’s leader, is initially upset by the abduction but eventually accepts that God has led Jake to him. It’s not exactly a tranquil place; many at the commune carry guns, apparently in preparation for an apocalypse. Even their leader is far from amicable, and when Alec comes looking for Jake, Adonis demands he validate his faith healing by performing a miracle. As a few commune members begin distrusting Adonis, they may opt to help the Lowells, and with all those weapons readily available, chaos seems inevitable. Johnson’s novel is relentlessly grim. Characters are generally despicable and won’t earn much reader sympathy, including an individual whom someone kills in a black-magic ritual. But there are standouts in the cast, from Alec’s long-suffering wife, Belinda, who tenaciously searches for her son, to bright 10-year-old Maggie, who separately befriends Lucas and Jake. As in the preceding volume, supernatural components are subtle, like Alec’s ability to heal others. The author sets a brisk momentum by quickly diving into the story, making reading the first book a virtual necessity. A frenzied final act and an unexpected turn deliver a bracing ending that seemingly hints at a third installment.

A dark but exhilarating tale of black magic and religious fanatics. (dedication)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-09-831446-0

Page Count: 374

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

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HORROR MOVIE

A fever dream about despair and regret that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

When an unreleased cult movie is rebooted, the surviving member of the original film’s crew grapples with psychic whiplash.

Even though it’s not steeped in horror lore like the bangers being cranked out by Stephen Graham Jones or Grady Hendrix, this captivating take is tailor-made for fans of Stephen King and Jordan Peele alike. A cautionary tale with elements of indie movie darlings The Blair Witch Project, Blue Velvet, and River’s Edge, this chronicle of hometown kids trying to make a cheap slasher flick is shockingly memorable and deeply disturbing. Our unnamed narrator is the last survivor of the eponymous movie, filmed in the summer of 1993. Their Horror Movie concerns teens who torture one of their own—the narrator’s role is that of the Thin Kid, akin to the Slender Man of urban legend—and suffer the consequences. In the mix are the film’s obsessive director, Valentina; a handful of cast and crew; and the film’s ethereal screenwriter, Cleo, whose presence is most fully felt within the pages of her unusually personal screenplay. After a bewildering tragedy, the film was never released. Decades later, Valentina uploads a few scenes, some stills, and the screenplay to the internet, inspiring the modern-day reinvention. With his crewmates long dead by mostly natural causes, the narrator reluctantly agrees to capitalize on his infamy, eventually agreeing to participate in a hot horror reboot. Revolving between the original production and the big-budget reimagining, Tremblay deftly sidesteps genre tropes and easy laughs for a truly disturbing experience inside some very troubled heads. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be a great movie,” cautions our Thin Kid. “You’re all going to see it. Most of you are really going to like it.…Will the movie be something you take with you, that stays with you, burrows into and lives in a corner inside you? That, I don’t know.”

A fever dream about despair and regret that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9780063070011

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2024

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TOM CLANCY ACT OF DEFIANCE

Well-paced excitement as the Ryans come through again.

Echoes of Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October reverberate four decades after the late author’s famous debut.

In 1984, Dimitri Gorov plans to deliver details of the advanced Soviet submarine Red October to the Americans, but Marko Ramius has already defected and delivered the boat itself. Gorov dies and now, decades later, his son Konstantin captains the Belgorod, Russia’s most advanced sub. Said sub goes rogue along with its nuclear-tipped torpedoes that can penetrate American defenses and blow up some of our coastal cities, or “wipe the American Atlantic fleet off the map.” Driven by multiple grievances, Konstantin wants to do just that, but a painful illness may bring him down. Meanwhile, young Navy lieutenant Kathleen (Katie, please) Ryan plays one of several key roles in trying to stop World War III. She’s smart and appealing and tries hard to downplay the fact that she’s President Jack Ryan’s daughter—“Daddy’s little girl,” as a snarky officer says to her face. In one nail-biting scene a helicopter tries to transfer her from a ship to a submarine in the open ocean. As with every novel in the series, readers are treated to a ton of technical details and asides that slow the reading occasionally, but without which it would not be a Clancy yarn. And of course, there is the obligatory establishment of what fine all-around Americans the Ryans are. Plenty of well-crafted characters, Russian and American, make up the cast. War begins to brew as a Russian MiG is shot down and troubles threaten to escalate. At one point, Katie “felt like the entire world was barreling toward oblivion and she was the only one who could stop it.” But wait: Late in the game, Konstantin muses, “There is nothing the Americans can do to stop me.” Who is right? Hmm, that’s a tough one. In her proud father’s mind, Lieutenant Ryan becomes “Katie—my little girl turned naval officer overnight.”

Well-paced excitement as the Ryans come through again.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9780593422878

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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