A fast-paced, gloriously intricate introduction to a potential epic.

Paternus

A 17-year-old girl and a 22-year-old man get caught up in a conflict between godlike beings that’s been raging for eons in Ashton’s debut mythic fantasy.

The worst part of hospital intern Fiona Megan “Fi” Patterson’s date with guitarist co-worker Zeke Prisco isn’t his awkward rejection of sex, but the fact that he witnesses her epileptic seizure, her first episode in years. (She’s a troubled girl, in general; her mom died a decade prior and she never knew her father.) Her seizure results in her having a dream of a baby, which she sees again in a vision when her regular patient Peter becomes atypically responsive. Then a group led by a man named Kleron arrives at the hospital to see Peter, and they embark on a murderous rampage when asked to show identification. Fi, Zeke, and Peter make it out alive and eventually get help from Fi’s uncle and guardian, Edgar. They soon learn that people known as the Firstborn have been around for millions of years, split into two rival bands. The Asura, who long ago opposed a being called Father, have launched a global attack against their enemies—Father’s warriors, the Deva. Fi and Zeke each discover special abilities as they struggle to survive harrowing battles with evil beasts bent on human domination—or annihilation. This novel, the first of a series, is dense with back story. There’s so much, in fact, that the main plot essentially stands still as readers catch up with it. The final act, however, features nonstop action with daunting villains; Max is the best one—a creepy vagrant and whose monstrous “Trueface” (or genuine appearance) Ashton teases for most of the narrative. There’s also an impressive blend of biblical and Greek mythologies, with numerous characters whose names readers will find familiar. This book is emphatically adult, with an abundance of coarse language and hefty violence—blood, beheadings, and spilled entrails. Ashton doesn’t address some lingering questions, such as who exactly Father is, until near the end, and others remain unanswered. But more is sure to come, as the coda leaves characters’ fates in the air and multiple worlds to explore.

A fast-paced, gloriously intricate introduction to a potential epic.

Pub Date: March 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9971737-0-3

Page Count: 478

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2016

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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