An intense, sometimes-brutal novel about acknowledging and escaping an abusive relationship.

READ REVIEW

THE OTHER CHEEK

BOY MEETS GIRL. GIRL BEATS BOY. JUST YOUR TYPICAL LOVE STORY...

In Danbury’s debut novel, a marriage begins to crumble under the stress of abuse and mental illness.

Rich Bryson is a freelance cameraman working in television production. He has steady work, and he’s excited to be marrying Tami Matthews, a beautiful aspiring actress who can also sing and dance: “It was just a matter of time before it was her turn to shine,” she thinks to herself. Early on, Tami shows signs of an alarming temper, as when she gets a parking ticket and loudly curses the entire city of Anaheim, California. After a wedding that Tami has carefully orchestrated—but which still fails to satisfy her wish for perfection—she and Rich settle into their new life as a married couple. Soon, Tami begins flying into rages and taking it out on her husband—hitting him and pulling out chunks of his hair. When she discovers that her sibling is pursuing acting, she hits a new level of fury, screaming, “I hate my brother!” As a result, the abuse escalates, and Rich starts to fear his wife. The physical and psychological tolls then start to interfere with his work. Meanwhile, Tami’s mental health seems to be eroding: She starts talking to herself, repeating the phrase, “It doesn’t go with that”; she hears voices and grins maniacally; and her words and actions become stranger and more alarming. Rich gets help from his siblings, who formulate a plan to save him from Tami, but she has no plans to make it easy for him to leave. The novel’s short chapters move quickly, wasting little time on the relationship’s halcyon days. When moments of abuse occasionally give way to intimate moments of reconnection, Danbury shows how the protagonist rekindles his hope for a loving relationship: “Rich never knew what to expect anymore.” The author has a good sense of pace and tension, which he ratchets up during scenes of domestic cruelty. He also has a knack for rendering vivid action. But when the prose gets more figurative, it struggles to maintain the same clarity. For instance, when Rich and Tami return from an idyllic anniversary weekend, a tragic discovery exacerbates Tami’s fragile mental state: “Instantaneously, a glacial chunk of her remaining sanity had cleaved away and was ripped to smithereens, and what was left of her fragile world crumpled like a house of cards in a hurricane.” The general aim is apparent here, but the metaphors are too mixed to mean very much. Tami initially seems like an unlikely abuser, but her behavior becomes far less surprising as Danbury shows the extent of her mental illness. It’s not always clear what her disorder is, however; she shows signs of narcissism, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and mania. The author never makes Tami a sympathetic character, but the evidence that she’s unwell saves her from seeming cartoonishly villainous. One highlight of the book is the soundtrack: Numerous mentions of songs pepper the novel, sometimes reflecting and sometimes belying the feelings of the characters.

An intense, sometimes-brutal novel about acknowledging and escaping an abusive relationship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73334-400-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: JEFE PRESS

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more