An endlessly appealing supernatural tale with two charming protagonists.




This fifth installment of a series finds zombies in Iowa, part of a sinister plan that vampire and werewolf agents are investigating.

Samuel Johnson has encountered various creatures as an agent for Vampires Against The Evil. These include werewolves, aliens, and fiendish vamps called the Evil Ones, who consume blood directly from humans. But now Samuel and his fellow agents are tracking zombies ambling through residential areas in Des Moines, killing them at the first indication of “dangerous activity.” The appearances of the undead aren’t random, as Samuel quickly determines that black vans are dropping off the zombies. VATE agents search for the source while the zombies become increasingly harder to kill. Meanwhile, lycanthrope Joe Butler, who’s previously worked with Samuel, is on assignment for the Werewolf Organization Of Fighters. He’s shadowing out-of-town Wild Ones—rogue but not feral werewolves. These Wild Ones are meeting with some Evil Ones, though it’s common knowledge that werewolves and vampires hate one another. Joe gets closer to Henry Borman, one particularly suspicious werewolf, by convincing Henry’s pack to take him in. The agent learns of a mysterious third party involved in the unfolding plot and that VATE and WOOF each have a mole. Soon, Joe’s and Samuel’s paths intersect, necessitating their cooperation, however reluctant. As in preceding series entries, the narrative style consists of Samuel’s opinionated written account. But this time, Carpenter (Economies of Blood, 2018, etc.) offsets the vamp’s typical snootiness (he believes all humans and werewolves are stupid) with Joe’s alternating, more amiable accounts. But both perspectives are often humorous. The author also skillfully showcases other narrative modes: a surprise third narrator later in the story and Joe’s condensed, animalistic voice when in wolf form. While the novel is lively and entertaining, it’s occasionally predictable, from who’s ultimately behind the baddies’ scheme to the inevitable converging of Samuel’s and Joe’s cases. Still, it’s fun to watch these two striking heroes at work, whether they’re independent or together.

An endlessly appealing supernatural tale with two charming protagonists.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-07-580861-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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