Readers who share the novel’s views will welcome this apocalypse.

READ REVIEW

THE VANISHING

THE END OF TIME CHRONICLES (VOLUME 1)

The Jannusches’ novel, the first in the End of Time Chronicles, explores life after the rapture.

The husband and wife authors urge readers to be prepared for what is sure to come: The fulfillment of a biblical prophecy of apocalypse. “It isn’t a matter of if, but a matter of when,” the epigraph states. The novel has a captivating beginning, as Alexander Mancini, aka Lex Baxter, runs from the police in a stolen car. He’s been known to charm his way out of trouble, and after he meets an elderly Irish couple, Dorothy and John O’Malley, he’s ready to keep it up. But just as John is probing Lex’s background, the O’Malleys are “raptured.” The rest of the novel follows Lex and a cast of unique characters as they struggle through the aftermath of what has become known as “the vanishings.” Readers will be intrigued by the characters’ divergent paths that cross amid the post-apocalyptic chaos, while the people of Earth consider their connection to God. The clear but basic prose doesn’t particularly help heighten the story’s suspense or emotional effects as the writing does in, say, the Left Behind series, and when introducing characters, the authors jump a bit too quickly to physical descriptions and piling on back story. The novel also takes a strong political stance: “For the first time ever, a Non-American born, Muslim President had risen to power, on a platform promising change and moving forward in history….[T]he changes the new President planned to bring would ultimately be fatal to the country that he loved so dearly.” (The story takes place just as “the President had started his second term.”) Despite the action and ample suspense, some readers may struggle to reconcile the strong political and religious views of the book, which the authors seem to conflate.

Readers who share the novel’s views will welcome this apocalypse.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478368144

Page Count: 234

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2012

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A perilous, magic-school adventure that falls short of its potential.

A DEADLY EDUCATION

From the The Scholomance series , Vol. 1

A loosely connected group of young magicians fight horrendous creatures to ensure their own survival.

Galadriel "El" Higgins knows how dangerous the Scholomance is. Her father died during the school's infamous graduation ceremony, in which senior students run through a gauntlet of magic-eating monsters, just to make sure her pregnant mother made it out alive. Now a student herself at the nebulous, ever shifting magic school, which is populated with fearsome creatures, she has made not making friends into an art form. Not that anyone would want to be her friend, anyway. The only time she ever met her father's family, they tried to kill her, claiming she posed an existential threat to every other wizard. And, as a spell-caster with a natural affinity for using other people's life forces to power destructive magic, maybe she does. No one gave Orion Lake that memo, however, so he's spent the better part of the school year trying to save El from every monster that comes along, much to her chagrin. With graduation fast approaching, El hatches a plan to pretend to be Orion's girlfriend in order to secure some allies for the deadly fight that lies ahead, but she can't stop being mean to the people she needs the most. El's bad attitude and her incessant info-dumping make Novik's protagonist hard to like, and the lack of chemistry between the two main characters leaves the central romantic pairing feeling forced. Although the conclusion makes space for a promising sequel, getting there requires readers to give El more grace than they may be willing to part with.

A perilous, magic-school adventure that falls short of its potential.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be...

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

Some very nice, very smart African-Americans are plunged into netherworlds of malevolent sorcery in the waning days of Jim Crow—as if Jim Crow alone wasn’t enough of a curse to begin with.

In the northern U.S. of the mid-1950s, as depicted in this merrily macabre pastiche by Ruff (The Mirage, 2012, etc.), Driving While Black is an even more perilous proposition than it is now. Ask Atticus Turner, an African-American Korean War veteran and science-fiction buff, who is compelled to face an all-too-customary gauntlet of racist highway patrolmen and hostile white roadside hamlets en route from his South Side Chicago home to a remote Massachusetts village in search of his curmudgeonly father, Montrose, who was lured away by a young white “sharp dresser” driving a silver Cadillac with tinted windows. At least Atticus isn’t alone; his uncle George, who puts out annual editions of The Safe Negro Travel Guide, is splitting driving duties in his Packard station wagon “with inlaid birch trim and side paneling.” Also along for the ride is Atticus’ childhood friend Letitia Dandridge, another sci-fi fan, whose family lived in the same neighborhood as the Turners. It turns out this road trip is merely the beginning of a series of bizarre chimerical adventures ensnaring both the Turner and Dandridge clans in ancient rituals, arcane magical texts, alternate universes, and transmogrifying potions, all of which bears some resemblance to the supernatural visions of H.P. Lovecraft and other gothic dream makers of the past. Ruff’s ripping yarns often pile on contrivances and overextend the narratives in the grand manner of pulp storytelling, but the reinvented mythos here seems to have aroused in him a newfound empathy and engagement with his characters.

If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be doing triple axels in his grave at the way his imagination has been so impudently shaken and stirred.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-229206-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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