A measured, affecting look at a struggling and burdened teenager.


A talented Philadelphia high school swimmer with a bleak family life turns up missing in Schiller’s (Even if Your Heart Would Listen, 2019) dark melodrama.

After a New Year’s Eve party to usher in 1993, Angel Ferente doesn’t make it home. Angel is a senior at Kennedy Academic High School, where she’s a star on the swim team. The team also includes her best friend, Alex Williamson, and her “sometimes boyfriend,” Jamal Joyner. Her home life, however, is troubling. Her mother, Rita, who goes by “Pic,” has spent time in rehab and, several years prior, lost custody of Angel and her little sister, Jeannine. But now the girls live with Pic and her spiteful, unemployed husband, Frank, along with the couple’s young daughters, Kathleen and Joy. Before she disappeared, Angel had been caring for the other girls in between seemingly endless arguments with Pic and Frank. Though Angel has run away in the past, as when she suddenly left to see her biological father in New Jersey, Alex and Jeannine are worried because no one has any idea where she has gone. While some in the Philly community search for the missing teen, her friends and family can only hope that someone will find Angel—and that she’s still alive. Schiller’s tale, told through the alternating narrative perspectives of Alex and Jeannine, is an absorbing character study of Angel as well as of Jeannine. Both narrators provide insight into Angel, who uses swimming less for personal achievement and more as an escape from the home that occasionally leaves her with visible bruises. But readers learn just as much about Jeannine, an exceptionally smart girl whom many disregard because she rarely speaks in public. The author balances the generally somber story with amiable characters, from tough but compassionate swim coach “CJ” Rhodes to Alex’s mom, Claire, who’s a teacher at the same school. The tight, unembellished prose makes for an easy read and even adds a hint of mystery, as readers know neither Angel’s fate nor the identity of the person sending her anonymous, suggestive letters.

A measured, affecting look at a struggling and burdened teenager.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68463-036-3

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Spark Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2020

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

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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.


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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