A quiet thriller that succeeds in mirroring life’s complex and jarring pathways.

LUCIA'S POLTERGEIST

In this debut novel, a teenage girl displays disturbing behavior while her frayed home life worsens.

The year is 1989, and 16-year-old Lucia Goldman lives with her mother, Valerie, in a shabby London apartment. Lucia has two older half-siblings from Valerie’s first marriage, Ben and Tim. The girl’s father, Colin, has grown emotionally distant since remarrying and retiring to Spain. Worst of all, Valerie drinks and frequently vents her frustration with life on her daughter, which leads to shouting matches and even physical violence. Lucia loathes her mother and uses pain, like radiator burns, to dull the present moment (“Pain pauses time”). Stress also causes a strange pulse to throb between her legs. One evening, Lucia is concentrating on homework when she discovers some water staining her paper. She can’t discern how it got there, but the notion of a leak in the apartment gives her mother hysterical flashbacks to a flood in 1979. The novelty of the situation energizes Lucia, and so she starts spilling water here and there in secret. When Ben becomes involved, he calls out Lucia for the mischief. But the situation becomes serious when a malicious force introduces itself as Ginger and warns Lucia: “Kill or I will.” Does this poltergeist have something to do with Colin’s disconnect from his daughter? In this charged, though delicately wrought period piece, Solomon flashes between 1989 and Lucia’s earlier years visiting her father. Sedate and eerie prose employs the senses fabulously, as in the line “She studies the patch of water. It looks like a goat’s head with horns from where she stands.” Certain details of Lucia’s childhood, including sharing a bed with her father, are odd at first. Later, Colin’s mental health deteriorates and creeping realizations hit Lucia and readers simultaneously. Throughout, seeing her suffer a traumatic adolescence is heartbreaking, and it is to the author’s credit that this narrative proceeds much like a memoir. A psychic investigator speaks to readers in their darkest moments when he tells Lucia: “Flow with life, my child, not against it.”

A quiet thriller that succeeds in mirroring life’s complex and jarring pathways.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 371

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2019

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

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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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