An exceptional sequel courtesy of driving plot and remarkable protagonist.

CLANDESTINE

In the second installment of Rials’ (Ascension, 2016) YA paranormal series, a uniquely powerful human-vampire hybrid must decide her part in an imminent revolution against dominating vampires.

Seventeen-year-old Cheyenne Lane and her bestie, Anne Lacroix, both human-vampire Deuxsang, are prisoners. Their own families have restricted them to Anne’s room for a couple of weeks until classes begin at Clandestine. The college for Deuxsang students offers academics as well as physical training to aid the Deuxsang in mastering a specific ability. While most hone one ability out of a possible four, Cheyenne is already capable of two—compelling and inflicting—and may be able to learn them all. She’s miserable at Clandestine, however, separated from Anne and constantly monitored by her personal guard, Hugo, not to mention having no contact with her witch love interest, Eli. Cheyenne soon infers her family wants her at the college for critical training. If she masters all four abilities, she can be a weapon in a revolt against the vampires and its ruling Council. It isn’t long before Eli and his witch kin manage to get a message to Cheyenne. As it happens, they are likewise invested in overthrowing the vampires but want to protect her from the vamps, as her potential power rivals that of the Council chairman, Lamia. This incites Cheyenne into further training so she can join the fight even as the witches and the Deuxsang are at odds. She’s thrown, however, by startling new information concerning both the Deuxsang’s origin and the real reason the vampires are interested in Cheyenne. At the outset of the second installment, Rials plunges right into the action, making readers’ knowledge of the series opener a necessity. This establishes a steady pace from the beginning. Moreover, interesting surprises abound, like the identity of “the most powerful vampire in history.” The novel’s highlights are scenes of Cheyenne training, mostly inflicting, which is easily her most intimidating skill: She breaks noses, pulls bones out of sockets, and wills someone’s “skin to squeeze his bones.” There are unfortunately few particulars on another stellar ability, dreamwalking. But Cheyenne’s difficulty in mastering this showcases Rials’ subtle humor; when she steps into one of Eli’s dreams, she’s just as shocked as he is. In fact, Cheyenne spends much of the story in a bewildered state, which the author perfectly captures. Readers, for one, will understand her growing sense of distrust: Her own family forced her into Clandestine, and it seems that everyone wants to exploit her gifts. Though the novel has unmistakable shades of Twilight and Harry Potter, there are also nods to popular fairy tales. Cheyenne’s first meeting with her boyfriend’s mother, for example, is via a magical mirror, while the teen, in lieu of evil stepsisters, must contend with evil brother-in-law Thomas. The inevitable confrontation among vampires, witches, and Deuxsang leads to an exhilarating ending that sublimely sets up a third installment.

An exceptional sequel courtesy of driving plot and remarkable protagonist.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-935426-04-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: Aletha Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2018

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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