An enjoyable, somewhat overlong fantasy of clashing beliefs.



In Glickman’s (Aura, 2004, etc.) third novel, two princes face a threat that is both physical and philosophical.

Prince Talland meets the alluring, dangerous daughter of the Godlians (religious fanatics driven to control the world), and Prince Orland must hold fast against the mandated destruction of elder wisdom on Nef Island, where it’s all too easy to let old insights die. For Talland, the risk is of allowing others to assume control while he’s growing into his role as an active ruler. Orland must do more than merely escape; he must lead the world to wisdom. For both brothers, there is a daunting learning curve. Can they navigate the Godlian tyranny sufficiently to bring the people truth, whatever the price? Or will they sell out and abandon the heritage of humanity? Even the most enlightened are willing to burn ancient knowledge to save themselves, and there is always the matter of the spirit of “The One”—do they serve it, or do they defy it? For Orland, Talland and the reader, these issues remain foremost as the nations of their world are drawn into the two brothers’ destiny and move forward. And the story does not end there—as in the real world, every great clash has its aftermath. The novel is deeply political, and readers can embrace or ignore this as they wish. It is also extremely long, with a word count equivalent to three standard novels. The characters are well fleshed out (of the two princes, the stuttering, troubled Talland is the more interesting, but the story is told from Orland’s perspective); the dialogue is serviceable and often lighthearted (“stories require bathed bodies, and dinner”); and the pacing acceptable. Every point of view is addressed, and there is more than enough magic to keep readers engaged. Where it falls short, the reader will enjoy the deep philosophical disputes that the ambling, anecdote- and song-driven story—in part a New Age narrative—demands. More a fictional memoir of a troubled period in a fantasy world’s history than a battle-driven adventure.

An enjoyable, somewhat overlong fantasy of clashing beliefs.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9720718-9-5

Page Count: 650

Publisher: Hand to Hand Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2017

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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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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


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

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