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The Agreement

From the Shadow Tales series , Vol. 3

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

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 LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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FIREFLY LANE

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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