An enjoyable, gentle fantasy that gives new meaning to the phrase “Spirit of St. Louis.”


In the 20th century, citizens of St. Louis discover that a parallel-universe effect exists, allowing them to periodically cross over to a different, more ideal city.

Von Schrader’s debut novel should especially captivate readers familiar with St. Louis, but even those unacquainted with the city will find this parallel-worlds yarn worth a visit. In 1929, during the stock market crash, Missouri financier James Whittemore Hines is contemplating suicide when he suddenly finds himself in an alternate St. Louis, with no economic malaise. World War I never happened either (apparently thanks to a benevolent Kaiser Wilhelm II), and nobody’s heard of Charles Lindbergh. Pragmatic Hines doesn’t question the phenomenon but uses his acumen to become part of the city’s infrastructure. When a devastating earthquake hits in 1931, Hines’ radical plan of citizen shareholder ownership of the wrecked city not only rebuilds St. Louis, but also tackles racism, jump-starts scientific development, and makes the place a radiant, world-class metropolis (though this town doesn’t have that landmark steel arch). Years later, in the original St. Louis of 2010, blighted and racially divided (but at least it’s got the Gateway Arch), Billy Boustany is the harried head of a failing chain of electronics/appliance stores. He accidentally crosses over into the other St. Louis (which he calls “HD St. Louis”) and is charmed by the eclectic markets, pedestrian-friendly streets, curious inventions, and upbeat ambiance. He revisits the alt-city again and again and finds the secret too good to keep to himself. Which is a problem, because, as the narrative divulges, an elite corps in “HD St. Louis,” the Knights of the Carnelian, polices the shifting boundaries between the worlds and strives to keep out intruders from the original city, characterizing them (understandably) as uncouth, racist, and generally detrimental. But even as villains, they are fairly soft-edged. While the plotline of von Schrader’s tale may remind SF readers of China Miéville’s The City & the City (2009), its heart is much closer to the soothing fantasies of Jack Finney (Time and Again; I Love Galesburg in the Springtime), with their nostalgic longing for bygone (or, in this case, alternate) eras and communities. Von Schrader’s prose is butter smooth, and the chronological jumps the narrative makes back and forth throughout history (in both universes) are never tangled or confusing.

An enjoyable, gentle fantasy that gives new meaning to the phrase “Spirit of St. Louis.” (afterword, author bio)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73297-062-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Weeping Willow Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 84

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller


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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Engrossing worldbuilding, appealing characters, and a sense of humor make this a winning entry in the Sanderson canon.


A fantasy adventure with a sometimes-biting wit.

Tress is an ordinary girl with no thirst to see the world. Charlie is the son of the local duke, but he likes stories more than fencing. When the duke realizes the two teenagers are falling in love, he takes Charlie away to find a suitable wife—and returns with a different young man as his heir. Charlie, meanwhile, has been captured by the mysterious Sorceress who rules the Midnight Sea, which leaves Tress with no choice but to go rescue him. To do that, she’ll have to get off the barren island she’s forbidden to leave, cross the dangerous Verdant Sea, the even more dangerous Crimson Sea, and the totally deadly Midnight Sea, and somehow defeat the unbeatable Sorceress. The seas on Tress’ world are dangerous because they’re not made of water—they’re made of colorful spores that pour down from the world’s 12 stationary moons. Verdant spores explode into fast-growing vines if they get wet, which means inhaling them can be deadly. Crimson and midnight spores are worse. Ships protected by spore-killing silver sail these seas, and it’s Tress’ quest to find a ship and somehow persuade its crew to carry her to a place no ships want to go, to rescue a person nobody cares about but her. Luckily, Tress is kindhearted, resourceful, and curious—which also makes her an appealing heroine. Along her journey, Tress encounters a talking rat, a crew of reluctant pirates, and plenty of danger. Her story is narrated by an unusual cabin boy with a sharp wit. (About one duke, he says, “He’d apparently been quite heroic during those wars; you could tell because a great number of his troops had died, while he lived.”) The overall effect is not unlike The Princess Bride, which Sanderson cites as an inspiration.

Engrossing worldbuilding, appealing characters, and a sense of humor make this a winning entry in the Sanderson canon.

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9781250899651

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

Did you like this book?