A stirring, satisfying ending to an epic, otherworldly series.

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WAR & GRACE

DAUGHTER OF LIGHT BOOK 3

In this conclusion to a YA fantasy trilogy, the inhabitants of an enchanted realm face the impending— and foretold—battle between Dark and Light.

Half-faerie Melia Albiana is the chosen vessel for the entity Umbra. Umbra seeks the utter destruction of the Whole, which comprises all known worlds, including the mortal one. Surprisingly, Melia fought for the opportunity to be a vessel. The Grey Council, rulers of the enchanted world, has decided that Umbra’s incarnation is a necessity. For years, his presence in a realm called the Void has maintained a balance in the birth and death of mortal souls. But his rapid growth is now a potential danger, and the Whole can only evolve if he is no longer in the Void. Melia has about a year before Umbra incarnates, but she can still feel his presence and fears that he will ultimately take control. This makes her reluctant to marry her love, Ryder. Meanwhile, Melia’s cousin, Lilliane, princess of Illialei in the enchanted world, blames Melia for the death of the man she loved. The princess wants to stop Umbra’s incarnation, as Melia could use the entity’s power to unseat Lilliane’s royal family. That’s just what Melia plans on doing, in revenge for all the innocent blood the Illialei queens have spilled. This all seems to be leading to the prophesied Dark and Light confrontation, which Melia is prepared to fight, so long as Ryder is by her side. But then she faces a personal crisis after she’s understandably shaken by Ryder’s sudden arrest: Lilliane abducts one of Melia’s loved ones. Though the final book in Garrett’s (Half Mortal, 2015, etc.) series dives right into the story, new readers (or ones who have perhaps forgotten details of previous novels) won’t at all be lost. The author pushes the narrative forward with subtle but lucid reminders of preceding events, and comprehensive glossaries of characters and places are included at the book’s end. Melia remains an engrossing protagonist while epitomizing the conflicting nature of the characters. For example, in order to challenge the sinister Lilliane, she becomes the embodiment of another, possibly worse evil. Other players are equally intriguing and often tormented. Melia’s older half-faerie sister, Melusine, like their mother, fell in love with a mortal who had broken the faerie troth by witnessing her transformation. Surprisingly, Lilliane is an appealing character despite her unequivocal status as a villain. Her retaliation against a ship’s cook who disrespects her is cruel but also innovative and darkly humorous. The forthcoming battle as well as Umbra’s arrival gives the story an overall sense of dread and quite a few somber moments. But tension is lessened by Melia and Ryder’s romance, which is endearingly strong even if it may be doomed. There are likewise instances of understated humor; Lilliane believes a dragon sighting is “rather fantastical,” as the beasts prefer drier climates. Garrett’s prose is, once again, lyrical and serene: “Her gaze returned to the moons, one white and one pale purple. She stared for hours, in silent communion with the Whole itself.”

A stirring, satisfying ending to an epic, otherworldly series.

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9907691-4-9

Page Count: 690

Publisher: Half-Faerie Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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