A very satisfying blend of the historical novels of James Michener and the spiritual accounts of Carlos Castaneda.


The Last of Our Kind

From the The Buenaventura Series series , Vol. 3

The final installment of the adventures of an 18th-century sorcerer in New Mexico.

McFarland (What the Owl Saw, 2014, etc.) continues his series of mystical historical novels featuring the heroic young brujo Don Carlos Buenaventura, who, in 1706, lives in the Spanish Empire’s town of Santa Fe (now in modern-day New Mexico). He hides his sorcerous identity from other members of his community by taking the alternate identity of Don Alfonso Cabeza de Vaca, an ordinary young man from an aristocratic Catholic family. For some of his career, Don Carlos has also been hiding from a fellow sorcerer, Don Malvolio, who hounded him through many lifetimes and even killed him in his last existence. As this concluding volume opens, Don Carlos continues to juggle the natural and supernatural sides of his life: he’s pursuing a new career as mogul in the West Coast’s booming real estate market and a romantic relationship with the beautiful widow Inéz de Recalde. More recently, though, others have been pursuing him: Inquisition officials have heard rumors of a powerful brujo in Santa Fe and have sent a commission to ferret him out. McFarland’s genial, involving narrative vividly realizes the world of Colonial Santa Fe, and its people feel very believably of their time. In the supernatural segments, there’s never much doubt that Don Carlos will prevail (“When I’m in good form, I make for a challenging opponent,” he says at one point), but the scenes remain gripping. McFarland is quite skilled at providing seamless background information so that each of the books in the series could, in a pinch, stand alone. However, readers are nonetheless advised to read the first two installments before beginning this third, as a great deal of nuance, especially regarding Don Carlos’ knowledge of and belief in himself, would otherwise be lost.

A very satisfying blend of the historical novels of James Michener and the spiritual accounts of Carlos Castaneda.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63293-085-9

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Sunstone Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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