DEEP INTO THE HEART OF A ROSE

A romantic fantasy, ambitious as any Tolkien-inspired work, earnestly and thoughtfully delivered.

Denny’s novel, his first and the opener in his Book of Broken Bindings series, begins in the Vale, a quaint and simple place, with Mr. Edward T. Cozzlebottom recalling a fragmented dream on a sunny morning during a quickly descending autumn season. Descending, it will be learned, with unnatural rapidity through dark and mysterious intent. At this auspicious moment, unconventionally wise sometimes-adventurer Cozzlebottom (Cozy to his friends) embraces his feelings for his neighbor, the sweetly hermetic rose-enthusiast Ezmerelda Wimbish, and writes her a letter confessing his affection. The eve after it is written, Mizz Wimbish is overcome by a desire to travel, and departs, and the letter is stolen by an Iron Rider traveling in shadow on a metal steed. Discovering his love vanished without explanation, Cozy enlists his friend Eddy to secure her safety and both parties venture in different directions into the uncertainty of the Outlands, the Western Hills and the Great Dorianic Forest, all encircled by the high peaks of the Bruste Mountains—Denny wisely includes a map with his text—where they find the stuff of myths and children’s stories to be more fact than fable and discover themselves figures in “a battle for light and time itself.” Denny’s drama, both jaunty and frightening, is engaging and well-paced, and his characters are wholesome archetypes: deeply lovable, easily feared or anything in between. His airy writing style and sense of whimsy complement the book’s heavy mythology. There’s nearly always allegorical meaning to be drawn from the myriad encounters of his sojourners, and lessons learned are tempered not with irony or snark, but with the contentment that knowledge gained is relational, and particular to the peculiar men and women that populate Denny’s epic landscape. Some symbols, characters and scenarios are a little too familiar, and the book’s triumphs may seem forgone conclusions, but engaged readers will be charmed and entertained. Those who appreciate fanciful adventure fiction sincerely told will enjoy Denny’s work and look forward to the next installment.  

 

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615451558

Page Count: 458

Publisher: Night Watch

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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