With the same winning humor, the Garbageman evolves to face deadlier challengers.

Cryptic

From the Garbageman series , Vol. 2

In this sequel, an artist finds his psychic powers waning as a serial killer and a supernatural horde descend on Arizona.

It’s been two years since the Bangers shot David Turley and Dr. Newman saved his life. Using the experimental substance Neurogen, the doctor gifted David with healing abilities and telekinesis in Dean’s (Garbageman, 2015) previous installment. Now, David has married girlfriend Julie, and the two artists are enjoying life in Phoenix. One weekend, they visit a Hopi reservation. Julie acquires a new kachina figurine for her collection, and David finds a mysterious man who gives him the corner of a stone tablet. “With this piece of stone comes a great responsibility,” the man tells him. Later, news outlets report that a serial killer called the Fisherman is terrorizing the area, leaving mutilated bodies in his wake. David wonders about his responsibility to the city after using his psychic talent to create a trash monster that fought the Bangers. Recently he’s been visiting Newman—not only to develop a safer version of Neurogen, but also because his powers seem to be vanishing. At his latest appointment, David sits in the waiting room after some tests, anticipating the results. Newman, however, disappears. In this novel, Dean presents his hero—who’s a cross between the Hulk and a dumpster—with some familiar horror villains. Early in the narrative, the ghoulish Fisherman thread brings readers to an underground conclave of vampires and werewolves. The monstrous horde is led by Hellann, whose power over her minions isn’t quite what is seems. Add to this mix some Hopi lore about the shape-shifting Ya Ya, or as David’s mentor Bradley explains, “Have you ever wondered why nobody has ever caught...Bigfoot? It’s because they are Native American skin walkers.” Dean once again keeps the mood fun (at one point, David thinks, “It is time to do some recycling”) yet brutal (a werewolf rips “half a rib cage from a running man”). Sometimes the story flows too placidly, as when David learns about manipulating energy and his “third eye” with little resistance. Horror fans should nevertheless celebrate the author’s flair for demented action and gore.

With the same winning humor, the Garbageman evolves to face deadlier challengers.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5353-6670-0

Page Count: 376

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2016

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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NINTH HOUSE

Yale’s secret societies hide a supernatural secret in this fantasy/murder mystery/school story.

Most Yale students get admitted through some combination of impressive academics, athletics, extracurriculars, family connections, and donations, or perhaps bribing the right coach. Not Galaxy “Alex” Stern. The protagonist of Bardugo’s (King of Scars, 2019, etc.) first novel for adults, a high school dropout and low-level drug dealer, Alex got in because she can see dead people. A Yale dean who's a member of Lethe, one of the college’s famously mysterious secret societies, offers Alex a free ride if she will use her spook-spotting abilities to help Lethe with its mission: overseeing the other secret societies’ occult rituals. In Bardugo’s universe, the “Ancient Eight” secret societies (Lethe is the eponymous Ninth House) are not just old boys’ breeding grounds for the CIA, CEOs, Supreme Court justices, and so on, as they are in ours; they’re wielders of actual magic. Skull and Bones performs prognostications by borrowing patients from the local hospital, cutting them open, and examining their entrails. St. Elmo’s specializes in weather magic, useful for commodities traders; Aurelian, in unbreakable contracts; Manuscript goes in for glamours, or “illusions and lies,” helpful to politicians and movie stars alike. And all these rituals attract ghosts. It’s Alex’s job to keep the supernatural forces from embarrassing the magical elite by releasing chaos into the community (all while trying desperately to keep her grades up). “Dealing with ghosts was like riding the subway: Do not make eye contact. Do not smile. Do not engage. Otherwise, you never know what might follow you home.” A townie’s murder sets in motion a taut plot full of drug deals, drunken assaults, corruption, and cover-ups. Loyalties stretch and snap. Under it all runs the deep, dark river of ambition and anxiety that at once powers and undermines the Yale experience. Alex may have more reason than most to feel like an imposter, but anyone who’s spent time around the golden children of the Ivy League will likely recognize her self-doubt.

With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo’s compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally dazzling sequels.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31307-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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