Routine monsters, but the story’s no less invigorating and the hero’s always entertaining.


The Agreement

From the Shadow Tales series , Vol. 3

Drummond’s (Something Wiccan, 2015, etc.) latest supernatural thriller finds its recurring teen hunter and his pals confronting vampires who’ve taken control of a Scottish town and its residents.

Now that his son Toby’s back in Silver Falls, Oregon, Sheriff Walter Hoffman’s reluctant to let the teenager return to Germany to train with the European Huntsman’s Network. But when baddies show up to retrieve powers Toby’s “inherited” from a dead warlock, Walter agrees that his son may be safer overseas. Toby’s girlfriend, Rachel, tags along, wanting to know how his decision on whether or not to be a hunter will affect their future together. Already in Germany is friend Natalie, a witch with newfound and inexplicably potent abilities who’s spent the last couple of months training. Hunter Jack Steele, meanwhile, has lost contact with colleague Angelina, in an area where other hunters have disappeared. She’d been tracking Gavin, a bloodsucking crony to vampire Alister McKean, who killed Jack’s parents years ago. Jack and Toby follow Angelina’s trail to Loubcroy, where vampires have made an agreement with humans: if vampires can be fellow citizens, they won’t harm humans. Rachel and Natalie join the two hunters later, and soon they’re facing off against a batch of sinister fanged foes. The hunters can only hope the frightened townsfolk will stand their ground to take back Loubcroy. Despite head trainer Henry Graves recommending that the girls “forget everything” they’ve read or seen about vampires, the author’s third series entry relies primarily on genre conventions. Readers know that sunlight hurts, wooden stakes kill, and vampirism equals virus. Drummond, however, fills his narrative with scorching, relentless action, the bulk of it set in vampire-infested Loubcroy. There’s a plethora of undead villains, and Toby’s increasingly chic capabilities allow him, among other things, to stake vampires telekinetically. The girls unfortunately stand on the sidelines for most of the story: Rachel does little as a mystic, while Natalie can barely control her powers. But everyone’s engaged in battle by the final act, with a gripping dilemma to close the book: Toby does something drastic that makes him not much better than the fiends he’s been staking.

Routine monsters, but the story’s no less invigorating and the hero’s always entertaining.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5176-2992-2

Page Count: 422

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2016

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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