DONDE SE ACABA EL NORTE/WHERE THE NORTH ENDS

An imaginative and unpredictable time-travel tale.

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A debut literary novel in Spanish explores life, death, and faith.

“¿Estoy muerto o dormido?” (“Am I dead or sleeping?”), the protagonist asks at the outset of this tale. Known in the modern world as Uriel Romero, he finds himself in New Mexico in the 1600s. In this time period, he is Diego, a man attached to a Franciscan mission. His goal, or so he is told, is to bring the nearby Apache into the fold of Christianity. In his normal life, Uriel was an aspiring novelist. He was raised Roman Catholic though, as an adult, he became an agnostic. He finds the idea of preaching to the Apache terrifying. He explains, to no avail, that all he wants to do is wake up from this absurd dream. But his life only becomes more bizarre and complicated. Things start out oddly enough (including Uriel’s encountering the angelic sounds of Mahler). Later, the action shifts to other times and places while examining Uriel’s past. Whether Uriel is hearing the mini-Moog of Yes’ Rick Wakeman in his head, learning about karma, or wandering around his small apartment in Ithaca, New York, in 1996, the possibilities are many. Where will Uriel’s strange journey finally come to an end? Moreno’s story is surreal to say the least. One moment, Uriel’s Apache guide, Refugio, is his normal self. Then, in the next instant, he is suddenly speaking Spanish. Refugio is now someone named Doctor Hogan. While such transformations can be startling, they evoke the eerie sense that anything or anyone may be just around the corner. Uriel is the type of ordinary individual stuck in an extraordinary situation whom readers will empathize with. How can a man who has a taste for progressive rock and an urge to write a novel suddenly make do with the life of a 17th-century monk? Never mind the many dangers that abound—or the troubles of Uriel’s personal life. But some conversations prove bland. For instance, when Uriel is told that his karma is in play, his response is a flat “¿Mi karma?” (“My karma?”). Yet the inventive story ultimately delivers an intricate adventure beyond the normal constrictions of time and space.

An imaginative and unpredictable time-travel tale.

Pub Date: May 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73-706111-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

THE BOOK OF LOVE

This book has many enchantments and moving moments, but it would have been better, and more magical, if it were shorter.

A master of short fantasy offers her long-anticipated first novel.

Link has a genius for combining the mundane with the uncanny, diving into the dark currents where dreams grow and bringing up magic-encrusted jetsam, pearlescent ideas that coil and shock. The story takes place in a coastal New England town with the beautifully ambiguous, typically Link name of Lovesend. (Love’s end? Love send?) There, four teenagers—sisters Susannah and Laura, their bandmate Daniel, and Susannah’s friend Mo—are caught up in a struggle with deities who control access to death. As the book opens, Laura, Daniel, and Mo have been dead for months; in her grief, Susannah smashes her sister’s guitar. Soon, the teens, along with a mysterious companion, return from the dead, reanimated by their high school music teacher, Mr. Anabin. Another supernatural person, Bogomil, appears, taking various human and animal forms (a wolf, a rabbit). He writes a message on the music classroom blackboard with his fingernail: “2 RETURN 2 REMAIN.” Mr. Anabin gives the revenants a series of tasks, which they believe will allow two of them to stay alive while the other two, they presume, will die again. As they perform the tasks, readers get to know their families and personal struggles: Laura and Susannah’s father left the family when they were little, and the two contend with sibling rivalry and family roles (Laura’s the good girl, Susannah’s the rebel); Daniel, who has a compulsion to be liked, is a loving, caretaking big brother to a gaggle of mixed-race siblings; Mo, a gay orphan and one of the few Black kids in town, has lost his beloved grandmother while he was dead. Meanwhile, increasingly dramatic magical events transform their hometown—the weather goes hot and cold, carousel horses turn into wolves, the goddess of the moon erects a temple in the middle of the bay—as the characters rush endlessly back and forth, arriving at last at an almost mechanically tidy ending. Although all the fabulous Link elements are here, at more than 600 pages, the story is unwieldy and overexplained.

This book has many enchantments and moving moments, but it would have been better, and more magical, if it were shorter.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9780812996586

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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REMINDERS OF HIM

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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