An exciting, romantic tale anchored in a great sense of place.

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Blood Divine

In this paranormal romance, a man returns to his hometown, where he must learn truths about his family, join a battle against supernatural evil, and save the man he loves.

When Cooper Causey was an 8-year-old boy in Georgetown, South Carolina, he had a terrifying encounter at Warfield, an abandoned plantation, with the ghost of Blue, a slave who’d led a murderous revolt. Blue sent a jolt through Cooper that left a coiled energy in the boy—one that he still, 20 years later, deeply distrusts. Cooper left Georgetown and its uncomfortable memories behind long ago, but an alarming message from his beloved grandmother Lillie Mae sends him back. After he arrives, he discovers that Lillie Mae has disappeared and that someone has written the word “Warfield” in blood in the family Bible. He calls the cops, and Cooper’s boyhood crush RJ, now a police officer, responds; he now goes by the name Randy, and Cooper finds him more devastatingly attractive than ever. Later, Cooper investigates at the Warfield plantation, where he finds that two vampirelike creatures are holding his grandmother hostage. It turns out that his family history puts him at the center of an ageslong struggle between forces of light and darkness. To fight evil, he must learn to embrace his own powers, including the dark energy that Blue liberated in him. He and a team of vampire slayers join in several exciting battles in which Randy, too, has a role to play. In this debut novel, Howard handles the complicated plot nicely, building its dramatic events to a satisfying conclusion. His characters, including the supernatural ones, are varied and well-drawn. Although vampires, angels, and similar creatures are nothing new on the scene, Howard makes his concept fresh through good dialogue, a vivid setting, and Cooper’s personality, which combines brashness with sweetness. The relationship between Cooper and Randy, while slow to heat up, adds some welcome lightness to all the horror. The author also makes wonderful use of real-life Georgetown locations, such as the Rice Museum, to add realistic details that make it easier to suspend one’s disbelief. The ending suggests that Cooper and friends have more work to do—a good thing for readers.

An exciting, romantic tale anchored in a great sense of place.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 271

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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