A supernatural thriller with several surprising and satisfying twists.

READ REVIEW

DEMON KING

Troubling disappearances and violent murders rock a small town in this horror novel.

Oneka Falls is a sleepy little town that happens to be ground zero for supernatural activity. When 11-year-old Toby Burton disappears, his friend Benny Cartwright is the first to notice and start looking. Benny is nearly lured into the same dilapidated home into which Toby disappeared, tempted by a creepy old man (a demon) who can hear his thoughts. Soon, Oneka Falls comes under attack from the demon Herlequin and a sharpshooting killer who is egged on by the fiend’s beautiful and seductive offspring. Toby doesn’t return, and Benny can’t shake Herlequin from his mind as his family flees for safety. The horrors of the past don’t fade away but morph into a troubled present. Vick’s narrative jumps between 1979 and 2007, with the formerly quiet and safe Oneka Falls now a town full of demons with an ineffective police force and a shady town manager. Professor and forensic pathologist Drew Reid finds himself drawn to the town and the opportunity to indulge his demon-hunting side job. And though Drew has no memory of his past, Oneka Falls feels incredibly familiar. Local law enforcement grapples to get a handle on the dark happenings in and around town in the present, and those who were children in 1979 are reunited in their efforts to destroy the demon king and his followers. Vick’s (Errant Gods, 2017, etc.) supernatural horror story is evocative of Stephen King’s work in its use of a small-town setting and a gang of friends facing a powerful evil. The narrative’s chronological leaps are an effective method in building tension in both the past and present. The author doesn’t pull any punches when describing the violent results of a demonic encounter, and the rape and murder of a police officer’s family is particularly horrific. The weak link is Shannon Bertram, a victim in 1979 and a main player in 2007. Her character’s development is rushed, and her unexpected romance with Benny feels unconvincing and forced.

A supernatural thriller with several surprising and satisfying twists.

Pub Date: March 30, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Ratatoskr Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more