A cerebral, multiple-timelines novel that squanders its premise with its dearth of drama.

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LOTUS PETALS

A WAKE-UP CALL

A survivalist and a yoga-loving teen occupy several timelines in a story that involves the threat of a nuclear attack.

There are three parallel realities in Fenton’s debut SF novel, the first book in a planned trilogy. In Reality A, Davis, an employee of the agency in charge of Oahu’s coastal defense system, arrives at work only to learn that a North Korean missile is headed straight for Honolulu. He sends out an emergency text to the public, then rushes home, grabs his cat, Merlin, and heads for his backyard bunker. A consummate prepper, Davis has stocked the bunker with the supplies needed for this eventuality—but he didn’t expect his 18-year-old neighbor, Lotus, to pound on the door and beg him to let her in. He does, and she begins to chant. Soon they hear that, although a missile struck the city, a larger war has been averted. In Reality B, Davis accidentally sends out an alert despite the fact that no missile is speeding through the sky. Davis’ estranged daughter, Hannah, reappears in his life and befriends Lotus. In Reality C, there is another false alarm—this time Davis isn’t at fault but becomes the fall guy anyway—but Lotus’ mother goes camping and experiences an earthquake. The three timelines unfold, connected by Merlin—who, in addition to being a cat, is an alien who can connect telepathically with his former owner, who now resides in another dimension—and the yogic power of Lotus’ chants. Fenton’s prose is direct and dialogue-heavy, introducing the book’s heady concepts through her characters’ conversation: “ ‘I don’t suppose you believe we can change timelines with imagination and prayer?’ ‘What do you mean by timelines?’ ‘I mean a shift into a different reality that exists in parallel. A timeline would be one version of reality in an infinite multiverse of possibilities.’ ” Despite the intriguing premise, the timelines end up being fairly similar to one another, and none of them is all that engrossing. In practice, this prospective series opener is far less about surviving a nuclear attack than it is about people doing and talking about yoga. Fenton seems to believe that such a practice can lead to world peace, but whether or not that is true, it doesn’t make for very compelling reading.

A cerebral, multiple-timelines novel that squanders its premise with its dearth of drama.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-982222-89-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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