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FEVRE DREAM

Good vampires vs. evil vampires on the ante-bellum Mississippi—with a fat, tough old steamboat captain perilously caught in between. This reluctant hero is Abner Marsh, once-prosperous owner of an ill-fated steamboat fleet—who can't resist an offer from pale stranger Joshua York in 1857 St. Louis: York will finance the building of a luxurious new steamboat for Marsh to captain . . . but there are to be no-questions-asked about York's eccentric doings on-board. And eccentric they are: York never appears in daylight aboard the Fevre Dream; he has an odd gaggle of similarly inclined traveling-companions; he orders the boat stopped in weird spots along the way; and . . . what about those bloodstains or that ledger-book filled with newspaper reports of murders Well, vampire-readers will catch on promptly—especially since sf award-winner Martin, in alternating chapters, offers the grisly goings-on at the Louisiana bayou manse of Damon Julian, a "bloodmaster" of the most vile sort. But it takes Capt. Marsh a good while to figure out that York is indeed a vampire. (York at first claims that he's just hunting vampires; he even appears in daylight, risking death to prove his humanity.) And when the secret is bared at last, York tells an eventually sympathetic Marsh the whole truth—including the fact that youngish vampire York (b. 1785) has, after much struggling, concocted a blood-substitute for the accursed vampire species: "I conquered the red thirst!" York's mission, then: to locate the world's vampires, to give them all the elixir, and to make vampire/human brotherhood possible. Rival bloodmaster Julian, however, is quite happy to keep his followers going with cannibalism and bloodsucking. So, when the Fevre Dream reaches New Orleans, there'll begin a series of violent showdowns—as Julian takes over the boat and imprisons York & Co., surviving assorted attacks by Marsh (who's forced to flee). And finally, after Marsh revs up his old, creaky steamboat to search for the Fevre Dream, the good vampire and his now-devoted pal will undergo grim ordeals before vanquishing kinky, sadistic Julian. Despite a few super-gory moments and a slightly too-leisurely pace—the best vampire novel since Suzy McKee Charnas' The Vampire Tapestry: generally understated, firmly grounded in the Twain-worthy steamboat setting, abundantly creepy . . . and modestly resonant in the portrayal of inter-species camaraderie.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 1982

ISBN: 0553383051

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Poseidon/Pocket Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1982

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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