Compelling and visceral, Reyes’ debut combines mystery and coming-of-age to evoke the stories of the victims of femicide.

EARTHEATER

In a violent Argentinian slum, a schoolgirl reckons with the clairvoyant experiences she has while eating earth: vivid visions of missing women and children.

When her mother dies, the unnamed narrator develops an unusual compulsion to eat dirt and discovers the truth of her mother's killing, in all its betrayal and brutality. The earth, she finds, bestows her with visions of other people—murdered or missing, dead or alive—an ability that earns her the admonishment of her aunt, who grows crueler as word of the girl's abilities spreads. When a young teacher disappears, the narrator eats earth from the schoolyard for answers, which are revealed in a drawing she makes depicting the teacher’s naked body, tied to posts outside a warehouse. The body is discovered in the precise location of the drawing, and, fed up with the humiliation her niece has brought upon their family, the aunt leaves the girl and her older brother, Walter, to raise themselves. As she tries to live with some semblance of normality—dropping out of school, playing video games and drinking beer with Walter and his friends, experiencing first love—the young woman struggles with her earth-eating habit, craving it yet repelled by what it shows her. Out of need, though, she accepts money from people whose loved ones have gone missing, including a stoic and aloof police officer, in whom she unexpectedly finds an ally and romantic companion. In a voice that is terse, blunt, and biting, the narrator reckons with the impact of her visions on her health and relationships, as she witnesses more and more the ways fear and violence shape the experiences of the women in her community.

Compelling and visceral, Reyes’ debut combines mystery and coming-of-age to evoke the stories of the victims of femicide.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06298-773-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: HarperVia/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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