This vivid and gripping supernatural tale about a daring fighter grows more somber and complex as it builds.

Cleansed

From the The True Tree Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A fantasy novel focuses on a young warrior caught up in an epic clash of bloodthirsty ancient gods.

The latest book from Scott (Sorrow’s Heart, 2016), the first in a projected series, begins in the cramped, squalid, violent slum called the Slaag in the city of Tuilar in a land ruled by and terrorized by the Lord of Chaos and his mortal minions. This dark god visits localized chaos-storms at random on the ordinary people of this world. They have to contend not only with the tempests, but also with grunkins, the fearsome creatures who spawn in the storms’ aftermath. These high-fantasy dangers are distant from the desperate, hand-to-mouth existence of young Dirge and his mother, who are trying to eke out a living in the Slaag. But when Dirge finds his mother dead in an alley one night, his childhood abruptly ends (after that, readers are told: “He didn’t laugh. He didn’t cry. He simply didn’t care anymore”). A kindly tavern owner named Katlyn takes him in, and he comes under the tutelage of one of her bouncers, Talic Sern, who soon reveals himself to be far more than mere hired muscle. He’s a member of the Brotherhood of Assassins, which serves the death god Aza’zel by carrying out divinely sanctioned murder contracts. With Talic’s help, Dirge grows into a young man skilled in the ways of combat, but despite the bonds of friendship between his teachers and himself, he feels ill at ease. Increasingly, he becomes drawn to the service of another supernatural being, the old, forgotten god Ukase. When Dirge breaks with the Brotherhood and strikes out on his own, Scott effectively broadens the previously narrow setting of his story as he follows his up-from-nothing main character into various military adventures in a world being torn apart by warring deities. On this new path, the novel’s dynamic hero faces difficult choices, including whether to lead Ukase’s warriors (“His whole life, Dirge had only dreamt of being a part of something.…It was why leaving the Brotherhood was so torturous. He’d never thought—never wanted—to lead anyone”). Fans of John Marco and R. Scott Bakker should gladly welcome a first-rate author to their ranks—and should be happy to see the words “to be continued” at the close of this book.

This vivid and gripping supernatural tale about a daring fighter grows more somber and complex as it builds.

Pub Date: July 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-67812-1

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Blue Deco Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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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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