Inconsistencies in voice and tone keep Loingsigh’s compelling, authentic narrative from fully taking hold.

READ REVIEW

Light of the Diddicoy

Privation, memory and regret combine to make an uneven but potent coming-of-age story in Loingsigh’s book, the first in a series about one man’s hardscrabble life.

Fresh off the boat from Ireland, young William Garrihy—rechristened Garrity thanks to a typo at Ellis Island—comes to America in the early years of World War I, bearing his family’s hopes for his new life. Although William has an uncle already living in Brooklyn, the family ties aren’t enough to provide him with a new start, and he’s soon on the street, starving and headed for a pauper’s grave. Good fortune arrives, however, in the guise of Dinny Meehan, the local leader of the White Hand Gang and a rising player in the dockyards. Under Dinny’s watchful eye and tutelage, William gains strength and the beginnings of respect in his new culture. However, his estranged uncle’s union agitation and an earlier failure to defend himself have come to weigh on him in the eyes of Dinny’s men, and clearing himself of that weight requires payment in blood. Loingsigh’s narrative owes much to historical accounts and family lore; he easily evokes the poverty, pain and hard labor that made up the working experience of the immigrant class in early 20th-century New York, giving the story a grimy verisimilitude. Although many of the characters are stock, Loingsigh uses them effectively as background, focusing attention on Dinny and William, who’s more poet than warrior, though he has the steel to commit violence when he must. The largest flaw the narrative has to overcome is the inconsistency in William’s voice, particularly in his use of dialect and time-appropriate exposition. In some places, especially in the early chapters, Loingsigh uses dialect rendered so heavily (and phonetically) that there’s considerable guesswork in figuring out what’s being said. Furthermore, the shifting in perspective between first-person present and third-person past is inconsistent, and it’s generally accompanied by changes in syntax and vocabulary that can throw the reader out of the flow. Despite these issues, the tale of William’s early days rings with passion and pain, ultimately making for an engrossing read.

Inconsistencies in voice and tone keep Loingsigh’s compelling, authentic narrative from fully taking hold.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988400894

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Three Rooms Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

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

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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