Energetically reviving a neglected genre, Cottam delivers convincing chills alongside engrossing and highly cinematic...

THE HOUSE OF LOST SOULS

Ghouls slither into southern England, and two men fight the devil for a woman’s soul and sanity in this atmospheric gothic debut.

Although the main action takes place in 1995, the story’s roots lie in the 1930s, when a rich group of Satanists, including wealthy proto-Nazi Klaus Fischer and (real-life figures) novelist Dennis Wheatley and occultist Aleister Crowley, gathered to spawn the beast by offering a child in human sacrifice. This ugly tale is uncovered half a century later by unsuspecting Irish journalist Paul Seaton while trying to help his girlfriend with research for her dissertation. Seaton’s clandestine visit to the remote Fischer house and its resident horrors leaves him ruined, haunted and terrified. Ten years later, a foolish professor takes a group of students to the Fischer house, and Seaton is asked by mysterious Dr. Covey to help one of them, Sarah Mason, rendered crazed and suicidal by the experience. Seaton links up with Sarah’s army-trained brother Nick and, assisted by a wise old priest, the pair return to the Fischer house to exhume the bones of the sacrificial victim, pitting themselves against the best efforts of hellish opponents.

Energetically reviving a neglected genre, Cottam delivers convincing chills alongside engrossing and highly cinematic heroics. Surely the first in a series.

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-54432-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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