A creepy, uncomfortable, and masterful short story collection.




Cassidy’s (Curious Reality, 2015, etc.) short story collection puts the twisted, broken minds of adults and children on dark display.

Overweight George craves love to a dangerous degree but has never received a lesson in healthy affection from his dry, depressive mother. As a result, his sad life revolves around obsessions that bring him comfort in solitude: collecting objects, including stolen library books and action figures, and binge eating, during which he tells himself that his food orders are part of his imaginary work and social life. Caleb was born addicted to heroin, thanks to having an addict mother who died in childbirth, and his explosive, alcoholic father makes his life a living hell. Caleb takes out his hate on neighborhood animals until he graduates one day to a more familiar target. These two unfortunate men make several disturbing appearances in this collection, while other morose, maniacal, and morbid personalities take center stage only once each. They include Cinderella’s stepmother, who can’t be convinced that mutilating her daughters’ feet was a bad idea; Jared, who pushes himself and his bladder to their limits in order to have a sense of belonging; Kim, whose crippling migraine headaches and traumatic memories make her an emotionally hollow mother to her two young daughters; and Pria, who suffers from a compulsion to pluck things, including eyebrows, pigeons, and pickles. Cassidy’s roster of characters runs the gamut of emotional dysfunction and situational sadness, but just when the sorrow gets a bit too heavy, her easygoing prose and black sense of humor take the edge off. For example, in “Invisible Joy,” a melancholy woman named Joy mentally lists “things not to do today: Panic. Feel regret. Drink any alcohol. Take more than 2 naps.” With a few exceptions, though, none of these characters is particularly likable. The author isn’t in the business of redemption, either, as the upsetting story arcs have no happy endings. However, Cassidy writes with such nuance that no matter how foul the character, there’s always a bit of humanity shining through. These tales will certainly make readers squirm, but that’s a small price to pay for this poignant glimpse into how human lives can careen away from the norm.

A creepy, uncomfortable, and masterful short story collection.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2014


Page Count: 120

Publisher: Pluvio Press

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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.


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?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?