An inventive and macabre new spin on malevolent body snatchers.

THE HOLLOW ONES

A rookie FBI agent stumbles into a supernatural mystery when a series of murders erupts in New York, starting with her partner.

Hogan and del Toro have an exceptional track record with supernatural thrillers—see The Strain Trilogy (2009-2011)—so this new series starring a novice FBI agent and a classic occult detective is a welcome gift to disciples of Lovecraft-ian fiction. Odessa Hardwicke is cast in the mold of Clarice Starling, a tough but self-doubting FBI agent still finding her way. She and her jaded partner, Walt Leppo, are first on the scene when a disgraced politician slays his wife and children. In the midst of this gruesome scene, Leppo unexpectedly and abruptly stabs the surviving child, forcing Odessa to shoot him dead, glimpsing a weird specter departing as he breathes his last. The narrative then jumps from the modern day to the Mississippi Delta circa 1962, where African American FBI agent Earl Solomon is on the trail of someone lynching white victims. Intertwined between these storylines is the origin story of our other primary character, John Blackwood, a seemingly immortal investigator modeled after Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence. These disparate threads converge as Odessa, unjustly exiled from the FBI, connects with a dying Solomon, who gives her insight into his odd fellowship with Blackwood. After Odessa delivers an appeal to a cryptic mailbox in Manhattan, Blackwood suddenly materializes, a gaunt, erudite, and awkward consort cursed to chase down a specific breed of evil in this world. The body count rises with a massacre on Long Island while Blackwood teaches Odessa about a twisted cult dating back to Mesopotamian times that affords a select few souls, the titular Hollow Ones, the ability to jump between bodies and find ecstasy in their host’s violent death. Readers of occult fiction from Poe to Richard Kadrey will instantly recognize the creepy vibes and likely enjoy the ride.

An inventive and macabre new spin on malevolent body snatchers.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-6174-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

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IF IT BLEEDS

The master of supernatural disaster returns with four horror-laced novellas.

The protagonist of the title story, Holly Gibney, is by King’s own admission one of his most beloved characters, a “quirky walk-on” who quickly found herself at the center of some very unpleasant goings-on in End of Watch, Mr. Mercedes, and The Outsider. The insect-licious proceedings of the last are revisited, most yuckily, while some of King’s favorite conceits turn up: What happens if the dead are never really dead but instead show up generation after generation, occupying different bodies but most certainly exercising their same old mean-spirited voodoo? It won’t please TV journalists to know that the shape-shifting bad guys in that title story just happen to be on-the-ground reporters who turn up at very ugly disasters—and even cause them, albeit many decades apart. Think Jack Torrance in that photo at the end of The Shining, and you’ve got the general idea. “Only a coincidence, Holly thinks, but a chill shivers through her just the same,” King writes, “and once again she thinks of how there may be forces in this world moving people as they will, like men (and women) on a chessboard.” In the careful-what-you-wish-for department, Rat is one of those meta-referential things King enjoys: There are the usual hallucinatory doings, a destiny-altering rodent, and of course a writer protagonist who makes a deal with the devil for success that he thinks will outsmart the fates. No such luck, of course. Perhaps the most troubling story is the first, which may cause iPhone owners to rethink their purchases. King has gone a far piece from the killer clowns and vampires of old, with his monsters and monstrosities taking on far more quotidian forms—which makes them all the scarier.

Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

Pub Date: April 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3797-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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