A captivating page-turner that should whet appetites for Book 3 of this fantasy series.

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THE DAY’S WAKE

From the Tale of Infidels Trilogy series , Vol. 2

After world-shaking events, a soldier, prison warden, and heretic search for answers as war brews in this second volume of a trilogy.

In the realm called Matteo’s lands, the long-prophesied Day of Ascendancy has arrived, and despite the skepticism of many, the world really does turn briefly upside down, causing much loss and destruction. According to sacred writings, there now remain 100 days until the third Internecion, a time of conflict that is already beginning in some areas. Book 1 followed the fortunes of the Truthseeker (Sebastian Harvellian, a religious acolyte), the Traitor (Princess Hella, a diplomat), and the Imbecile (Darian Bronté, a soldier). Each was in some way wrongly accused or misunderstood. Book 2 takes up the stories of three related characters: the Good Son, Baldric Bronté, Darian’s brother; the Jailor, Zahir, who accompanies Hella; and the Naustic, Nala Réalla, a friend of Sebastian’s. Over the course of the novel, these characters trace difficult journeys, their paths converging on the camp where Sebastian is held prisoner. Along the way, a deep-laid and genocidal conspiracy comes to light as well as questions regarding certain deficits in the ecosystem of Matteo’s lands. Perhaps the answer is, as Sebastian thinks, in the oldest Book of Canons at the top of the Snail Mountains. Things look dark as the Third Internecion approaches. Readers who stuck with the unresolved cliffhanger ending of Book 1 should be glad they did, because Otto (Detonation, 2018, etc.) carries through the promise of his compelling worldbuilding in this second fantasy outing. Rich details stoke avid curiosity about mysteries still to be revealed. For example, if the Purveyor is correct and certain processes in this world exist to restore missing nutrients, why is the ecosystem unbalanced? Why the gravity shift, or whatever it was? What happened in the past that’s left its strange traces, such as mounds of bone and flesh working their way to the surface? Equally intriguing are the author’s well-developed and deeply engaging characters, with their moral dilemmas, need to survive, and questions of their own.

A captivating page-turner that should whet appetites for Book 3 of this fantasy series.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 135

Publisher: Sagis Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

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

DEVOLUTION

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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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

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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

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