An engrossing vampire tale with a richly detailed plot and backstory.



From the City of the Dead series , Vol. 1

In this supernatural novel, a human police detective hunting a killer reluctantly joins forces with the vampires she abhors.

A special squad for vampire-related crimes has its first case, with human detective Iliana Dawn and her partner at the helm. Their modern world is still adjusting to the Great Revelation that outed vampires. The United States made bloodsuckers illegal, but as Georgia fights the federal law, most of them gather in Acheron, “dubbed the City of the Dead.” Dawn now has a crime scene with two human bodies—one staked to a wall—and a teen vampire inexplicably on the premises. It’s a tough case that only gets worse when her and vampire Marcus Knight’s bosses stick the investigators together. Neither is happy about it, though Dawn, as readers soon learn, has a good reason to hate “Fangers.” The homicide investigation puts them close to the Black Sail (“the group that enforces the laws of vampires”) as well as a mysterious substance that some Fangers apparently crave. As Dawn tries to unmask a murderer, she absorbs quite a bit of Fangers’ lore and may even reevaluate her dismal opinion of them. Roberts packs hefty worldbuilding into this series opener. There are, for example, numerous discussions about vampires, from how they survive without draining humans to the different “types” of the undead (including the garden variety Lichs). But Dawn leads the story with panache, a stubborn, able detective who more than holds her own in combat with vampires and humans. Her journals form the narrative, and while her voice is divertingly cynical, they offer largely traditional storytelling—plenty of dialogue and certain particulars saved for later reveals. Still, the mystery thrives, as further stake deaths (this time with vampire victims) complicate the investigation. Roberts wraps up the engaging novel satisfactorily but allows some questions, including about a 21st-century war between Russia and America, to remain unanswered for the sequel.

An engrossing vampire tale with a richly detailed plot and backstory.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 9798414908852

Page Count: 273

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2022

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A unique story of transcendent love.


An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

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Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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