Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Next book

THE SWEET FRAGRANCE OF LIFE AND OTHER HORROR STORIES

A set of mesmerizing stories that wraps up way too soon.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

This remarkable debut collects a trio of horror tales starring Jewish characters.

Friedl Bamberger, in this book’s title story, lives a comfortable life in Germany before World War II. She revels in the wealth from her father’s successful department store and is perhaps a bit snooty. Her apartment building’s new porter, Henrik, catches her eye, and she’s ecstatic about the possibility of a new romance. However, Henrik’s arrival coincides with unforeseen changes as tenants start to disappear. “The Rebbe’s Prayer is Answered” follows a seemingly disenchanted rebbe in Poland whose loving wife can’t bear children. He pines for a merchant’s 15-year-old daughter and, since he’s unavailable for marriage, goes to disturbing lengths to get what he wants. In “The Jonah,” a new job in Palestine in 1941may allow 16-year-old Cili to escape poverty in Romania. On the voyage over, however, she shares space with a reputedly “anti-Semitic, brutish and resentful” crew. These men soon unleash a horrific assault that leads to a violent end for all involved. Schwartz, who offers all three stories in English and Yiddish, delivers enthralling character-driven tales that gradually darken as they go on. The main characters, for example, are all fascinating—even when don’t evoke any sympathy; Friedl is unabashedly self-centered (as when she plays piano in spite of the downstairs neighbor’s complaints), and the rebbe is loathsome. The author weaves in rich historical particulars, from the political climate of decades past to an account of a real-life incident that inspired one of the tales herein. Smooth, descriptive prose (“And there he is, his wavy hair catching glints of the afternoon sunlight, his powerful arms shoveling mulch in the garden”) makes these short stories fly by. Siewert’s black-and-white pen-and-ink illustrations (one per tale) boast simple but crisp details, including one particularly daunting and bloody image. This exceptional collection’s brevity is sure to leave readers wanting more.

A set of mesmerizing stories that wraps up way too soon.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 9789198721997

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Olniansky Tekst Farlag

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2023

Categories:
Next book

DAUGHTER OF MINE

Small-town claustrophobia and intimacies alike propel this twist-filled psychological thriller.

The loss of her police officer father and the discovery of an abandoned car in a local lake raise chilling questions regarding a young woman’s family history.

When Hazel Sharp returns to her hometown of Mirror Lake, North Carolina, for her father’s memorial, she and the other townspeople are confronted by a challenging double whammy: As they’re grieving the loss of beloved longtime police officer Detective Perry Holt, a disturbing sight appears in the lake, whose waterline is receding because of an ongoing drought—an old, unidentifiable car, which has likely been lurking there for years. Hazel temporarily leaves her Charlotte-based building-renovation business in the capable hands of her partners and reconnects with her brothers, Caden and Gage; her Uncle Roy; her old fling and neighbor, Nico; and her schoolfriend, Jamie, now a mother and married to Caden. Tiny, relentless suspicions rise to the metaphorical surface along with that waterlogged vehicle: There have been a slew of minor break-ins; two people go missing; and then, a second abandoned car is discovered. The novel digs deeper into Hazel’s family history—her father was a widow when he married Hazel’s mother, who later left the family, absconding with money and jewels—and Miranda, a consummate professional when it comes to exposing the small community tensions that naturally arise when people live in close proximity for generations, exposes revelation after twisty revelation: “Everything mattered disproportionately in a small town. Your success, but also your failure. Everyone knows might as well have been our town motto.”

Small-town claustrophobia and intimacies alike propel this twist-filled psychological thriller.

Pub Date: April 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781668010440

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Marysue Rucci Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

Next book

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Close Quickview