A robust historical fantasy showcasing the Egyptian pantheon and the strength of family.



This debut fantasy follows the travails of an ancient Egyptian peasant girl impregnated by a god.

Thirteen-year-old Anggun is newly a woman. In the peasant village of Arrousa, her family performs the Dawning Ritual by leaving beer for Ra, God of the Day. Nunuco, Anggun’s mother, is a widow and doesn’t take the ritual as seriously as her father-in-law, Iawii, would like. If the family’s offerings please Ra, he will take Anggun to heaven, where she’ll live in comfort and beauty. Later, as Anggun sings in a field, she does attract a deity. Set, the God of Storms, approaches in the form of a black snake. He eventually morphs into a powerful man, forcing himself on the girl before vanishing. When Anggun’s twin brother, Gunang, and their younger brother, Buku, find her, she’s burned but otherwise uninjured. At home, Anggun’s belly grows with shocking speed. Unbeknown to anyone, Nunuco removes a red scale from her daughter’s body, keeping it hidden. Iawii believes that Anggun “brought this on herself” and trusts in aid from the High Priests of Horus. But Nunuco learns that Iawii’s brother, Mekheb, is a Priest of Set living in the city of Neqada. Surely, he can help with Anggun’s supernatural pregnancy. Ruiz blends impressive historical research, family dynamics, and frank depictions of sex in her series opener. Readers learn not just about the narrative’s principal deities, but also about others who shaped ancient Egyptian life. “Ptah created Himself out of Chaos,” Mekheb says of the god who originated thought, “So, when you think to yourself, that is an aspect of Ptah in you.” The author also reveals lovely fusions of nature and architecture, as “orange light streamed between long rows of tall red and black columns that lined the temple’s outer courtyard.” Still, even readers with strong stomachs should prepare for Anggun’s intense sexual assault and, later, Gunang’s descent into drug use and prostitution. Egypt’s Crown Prince Imseti, who’s sure that Set’s child is a girl and is determined to pair with her, is the perfect villain to enliven the sequel.

A robust historical fantasy showcasing the Egyptian pantheon and the strength of family.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-08-743730-9

Page Count: 662

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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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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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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