A thoroughly researched, elegantly written historical tale.

READ REVIEW

RELUCTANT QUEEN

AN HISTORICAL NOVEL ABOUT MARY ROSE TUDOR, THE DEFIANT LITTLE SISTER OF KING HENRY VIII

Evans (Deadly Reunion, 2011, etc.) creatively imagines the private life of Mary Rose Tudor in this richly textured historical novel.

The English Tudors’ royal history is dominated by a cast of terrifying, imposing characters; the larger-than-life figures of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, for example, provide plenty of fuel for the contemporary imagination. As a result, authors often disregard such intriguing personalities as Princess Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s favorite sister, and Evans seeks to rectify this oversight. As this novel opens, Mary is having a heated discussion with her brother, the king, who has just announced that she will wed Louis XII of France, an ailing monarch who’s more than 30 years her senior. Mary is vehemently opposed to this decision and confronts Henry in a tone with which no subject would dare address a sovereign: “No, I won’t marry that feeble, pocky old man.” The author’s forte is her ability to reach beyond historians’ accounts and imagine such intimate moments. As the novel develops, she constructs an elaborate psychological profile of Mary; readers learn about how she recoils at the thought of touching Louis’ clammy skin and of her horror when she finds out that the French king let many of his subjects die in order not to disturb a ball held in her honor. After her marriage, the story focuses on the young queen’s complex relationships with the French royal family. It also addresses Mary’s desires as a woman—namely, her love for Charles Brandon, one of Henry VIII’s courtiers. After Louis’ death, Mary and Charles marry in secret. When Henry finds out, he forgives Charles, but the marriage soon weighs heavily on the newlyweds and changes the nature of their relationship. Much later, Mary has a difficult time with her eldest daughter, Frances, which adds to her torment as she pines for her son, Henry, who died at an early age. Traditionalists may recoil at the novel’s subtly contemporary edge, but it succeeds in reanimating an overlooked period of Tudor history.

A thoroughly researched, elegantly written historical tale.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Solo Books

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

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

Did you like this book?

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more