An engaging, offbeat, and Bible-inspired apocalyptic tale.

ITHYANNA: LAST DAUGHTER OF ATLANTIS

BOOK I: HOW THE WORLD ENDED MILLENNIA AGO

This first installment of a religion-themed SF/fantasy saga focuses on the high-tech but intrigue-wracked island nation of Atlantis and how a brilliant woman trusts science to rescue humanity from doom.

A dedication to God up front indicates Canadian author Cook’s antediluvian epic is sincerely meant as evangelical literature. But initially, readers encounter playfulness and semisatire that fall almost within hailing distance of dogma-bashing material like James Morrow’s Towing Jehovah (1994). Supposedly drawing from fringe history experts and Creation science, Cook depicts life in fabled Atlantis circa the biblical deluge. Humanity is high-tech and spacegoing (though penned in by an alien embargo) but, thanks to Adam and Eve, fatally decadent, divided, and driven to self-destruction. Especially significant is a looming military conflict with Lemuria, a fierce “Women’s Liberation” rogue state stopping at nothing for total control. Beautiful, psychic Atlantean science graduate Ithyanna foresees an upcoming apocalypse. Though tentatively a follower of Olympus-style deities, she puts her faith in rationalism and technology, plotting a starship escape of the planet’s best and brightest before it’s too late. Meanwhile, her adopted sister, an alcoholic “coarseneck” (redneck) with an affinity for “cargonaut” (country-and-western) music, repents and joins ex-technician Noah, a shunned disciple of the god Elohim. Noah, of course, is building a giant gopher-wood boat for his family and a menagerie of animals despite much public scorn and ridicule. God/Elohim—who appears as a talking lion like Aslan of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia tales—worries that Ithyanna’s scheme may spoil the whole flood thing. In this engrossing tale, treachery, arrogance, violence, nonbelief, and selfishness beset the eponymous hero’s plans and illuminate God’s true path. En route are enjoyable shoutouts to the Adam West Batman TV series, references to the movie flops Star! and Doctor Doolittle, and disguised versions of Kurt Waldheim, White nationalism, and Islam. If they aren’t too tempted to dig deeper for additional takedowns (was that supposed to be Oprah Winfrey? Madonna? Former President George W. Bush? Justin Trudeau?), readers will get a basically traditional exhortation urging redemption—complete with Gospel excerpts—attired in riots of rococo filigree and vivid anachronisms. This work certainly isn’t part of the Tim LaHaye/Jerry B. Jenkins school of Christian fantasy.

An engaging, offbeat, and Bible-inspired apocalyptic tale. (introduction, list of the nations, cast-of-characters guide, map)

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 271

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

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BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

THE SWALLOWED MAN

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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