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

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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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THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES

Things are about to get bloody for a group of Charleston housewives.

In 1988, the scariest thing in former nurse Patricia Campbell’s life is showing up to book club, since she hasn’t read the book. It’s hard to get any reading done between raising two kids, Blue and Korey, picking up after her husband, Carter, a psychiatrist, and taking care of her live-in mother-in-law, Miss Mary, who seems to have dementia. It doesn’t help that the books chosen by the Literary Guild of Mt. Pleasant are just plain boring. But when fellow book-club member Kitty gives Patricia a gloriously trashy true-crime novel, Patricia is instantly hooked, and soon she’s attending a very different kind of book club with Kitty and her friends Grace, Slick, and Maryellen. She has a full plate at home, but Patricia values her new friendships and still longs for a bit of excitement. When James Harris moves in down the street, the women are intrigued. Who is this handsome night owl, and why does Miss Mary insist that she knows him? A series of horrific events stretches Patricia’s nerves and her Southern civility to the breaking point. (A skin-crawling scene involving a horde of rats is a standout.) She just knows James is up to no good, but getting anyone to believe her is a Sisyphean feat. After all, she’s just a housewife. Hendrix juxtaposes the hypnotic mundanity of suburbia (which has a few dark underpinnings of its own) against an insidious evil that has taken root in Patricia’s insular neighborhood. It’s gratifying to see her grow from someone who apologizes for apologizing to a fiercely brave woman determined to do the right thing—hopefully with the help of her friends. Hendrix (We Sold Our Souls, 2018, etc.) cleverly sprinkles in nods to well-established vampire lore, and the fact that he’s a master at conjuring heady 1990s nostalgia is just the icing on what is his best book yet.

Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68369-143-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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