An enchanting tale that, though demanding lots of suspended disbelief, pleases on every page.

THE HIDDEN PALACE

Wecker returns, eight years after The Golem and the Jinni, with a sequel that brings the saga into the 20th century.

In a blend of romance, Mary Shelley–esque horror, and folklore, Wecker recounts the continuing adventures of Chava, the Jewish golem, and Ahmad, the Arabian jinni. Bound to each other by love, they have nonetheless parted long enough for Ahmad to have had a brief affair with a human. “I wasn’t careful enough. I made her ill, permanently. I’m not certain how it happened, I only know that I was the cause,” he confesses to Chava. And now, Sophia Winston, known as Saffiyah among the Bedouins she visits—“Saffiyah the stranger, Saffiyah the afflicted”—has a big problem: Having been touched by the jinni, the spirit of pure fire, she can’t get warm, even in the blast furnace of the desert, where, among other historical characters, she runs into a certain Thomas E. Lawrence—soon to be known as Lawrence of Arabia—and Gertrude Bell. Meanwhile, back in New York, Chava, now known as Chava Levy, and Ahmad find each other again, performing miraculous labors, she as a champion baker who, of course, doesn’t need to sleep and he as an “iron-bound” figure in human form who works diligently, in self-imposed exile, for a Syrian immigrant tinsmith. Not far away, a rabbi happens upon a secret book that contains the recipe for making a golem—a project fraught with peril but one that turns out to be helpful to his daughter, Kreindel, after bad fortune lands her in an orphanage. Kreindel is the most resourceful of the characters Wecker sets into motion in this tale, and she knows a golem when she sees one, including the one who teaches her home ec. Wecker skillfully combines the storylines of these and numerous other players, good and evil, in a story that, while self-contained, gives every promise of being continued.

An enchanting tale that, though demanding lots of suspended disbelief, pleases on every page.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-246871-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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