Clever and affecting in a vividly imagined world.

PURPLE

Sharpe’s debut novel applies a fresh fantasy premise to a classic coming-of-age tale.

London teenagers Ellie, Midge, Scott and Marty have their share of typical adolescent issues, from nagging self-doubt to sudden bouts of anger. But their biggest problem is an unusual one: A mysterious purple cloud has swept across the globe, taking with it every person between the ages of 18 and 65, leaving behind an uncanny aura of goodwill. Interpersonal conflict has come to a halt, London’s hospitals are empty, and the elderly have been cured of their aches and pains. Still, the four main characters are plagued by what Ellie names “the Missing Feeling”; they’re haunted by their absent families and the knowledge that adulthood is coming much quicker than they’d anticipated. The four soon discover that the Purple’s peaceful aftereffects are wearing off, and a group of power-hungry citizens are preparing to take advantage of the destabilized society. Aided by several plucky older guides, the friends set out to ensure the world’s safety, a quest that proves inextricably tied to their own journeys of personal and spiritual growth. These themes could easily become preachy, but with a consistently light touch and a winning penchant for the absurd, Sharpe instead puts forth an earnest, entertaining story with significant emotional weight. It’s not a perfect book—the pacing sometimes falters, the many threads of the narrative occasionally struggle to cohere, and the teenage characters all seem like simple variations on a Nice Kid archetype. But the problems those kids face, and their reactions to them, always feel authentic and relatable, even in the context of a shockingly altered world. Early on, as Midge wishes for someone she can trust, Sharpe writes: “For her, the subject of second persons had long been a prickly one. Reliable second persons rarely swam in the waters of her world.” Sentiments like that will resonate with readers of all ages, and this book’s great strength is its keen insight into the nature of human fear, hope and love.

Clever and affecting in a vividly imagined world.

Pub Date: June 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475147001

Page Count: 356

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2012

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.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 55

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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?

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more