The closest thing to an actual hell ride you'll ever experience (one hopes). Thrilling, bloody, and ferocious.



A death-defying Bolivian adventure in the primordial forest...starring a homeless teenager from Boston who just might be a shaman.

Sleeping late isn't an option in the jungle. By the time the sun is up, it's "already ricocheting with the calls of monkeys, parrots, frogs, all going at it molto vivace, shrieking and squawking as if the world were waking up in pain, the jungle giving birth to itself each morning." The setting of Ferencik's (The River at Night, 2017) second female-driven adventure thriller is hair-raisingly vivid, replete with tarantulas, piranhas, jaguars, and electric eels. We experience them all through the eyes of Lily Bushwold, 19, "a half-starved, high strung wild child who lived out of a backpack, homeless since [she] was thirteen." Lily thought she had landed a dream job in South America but arrived to find herself the victim of a scam; she's living on shoplifted bananas in Cochabamba when she meets Omar, a handsome hunter from a remote jungle village who has come to try his luck in the big city. He and Lily have already fallen in love when he learns that his 4-year-old nephew back home has been eaten by a jaguar; when he returns to seek revenge, Lily goes with him. What does she have to lose, right? She finds out pretty quickly during the most terrifying plane flight in recent literary history. After a near crash and a water landing, it's welcome to Ayachero—Omar's jungle home, where everybody except one little cross-eyed boy immediately hates the gringa. "A burnt-meat smell, the reek of stale water, and a stray sweet whiff of pig dung merged with a humid, breathless heat." Among the unwelcoming locals are two missionaries named Harriet and a female shaman named Beya, an outcast from a rival tribe who lives in the woods nearby. When Beya is able to save Lily from death by coaching her telepathically through an electric eel encounter, her next question is, "Are you the only shaman in Boston?" Even with the telepathy, Lily's experience feels almost real—then, in the final chapters, takes a wild turn into superhero territory.

The closest thing to an actual hell ride you'll ever experience (one hopes). Thrilling, bloody, and ferocious.

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6892-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scout Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.


A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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