Next book

THREE SIXES AND A FORKED TONGUE OR COLD MEDICINE AND A LIAR

A wild, if occasionally slow, brew of sorcery, Satan, and rural America.

Debut author Toothman’s character-driven horror novel unfolds in West Virginia.

It’s 1970 in Clockmaker, West Virginia, a small coal-mining town, and teenagers Joseph Smith and Priscilla Carpenter feel trapped. Joseph will one day escape to follow the Grateful Dead, but Priscilla has no such out. She lives in constant fear of her abusive father, Everett. Life improves when Priscilla finds a book about witchcraft, but the dark arts aren’t easy to master. She must work with disgusting ingredients, and she must also learn discipline. To become a real witch, she patiently climbs the ladder, like a “kung fu master.” But her sacrifices will be worth it if she can, for example, make urine rain on those who deserve it. Of course, satisfying petty grievances is merely the beginning; when it seems Priscilla’s ready to set aside her witch’s cauldron, there’s much more to come. An older Priscilla revisits her powers to address a health issue and, in so doing, draws unholy attention to herself. Enter the devil himself. Toothman’s novel ably builds the inner life of his lead (as with Priscilla’s taste in literature) and includes occasional black-and-white drawings from illustrator Wotton. The result contains many tropes of the horror genre, but the story isn’t so easy to classify. It references historic events, including the Buffalo Creek flood, and riffs on subjects like telekinesis. It all makes for a novel packed with the unexpected, like a cannabis-smoking devil. As Priscilla gets deeper into witchcraft, it becomes clear she’ll be stirring up chaos, which fuels the novel. But the story’s momentum can be uneven. Joseph’s character is ho-hum; his musical leanings and his conflicted feelings about the devil (“Sure, sure, he seemed nice”) don’t add much. Not when there are circles of hell to learn about and other devilish details that reveal a complex, fascinating world.

A wild, if occasionally slow, brew of sorcery, Satan, and rural America.

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2023

ISBN: 9798987763216

Page Count: 570

Publisher: Millions of Colors

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 23


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 23


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

Next book

THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

Close Quickview