This raw tale about a harrowing journey leaves a mark.

YOU'RE NOT DEAD

THE STORY OF A BOY

A young man struggles with the realities of a life-altering disease in this debut novel.

The Hero—a 24-year-old Canadian music store manager with a number of face piercings—is sick: “His head hurt and his world was spinning. He awoke in his basement feeling lethargic and slow. The stairs to the main floor were narrow, old and daunting. He ascended them as deftly as he could, avoiding steps that were notoriously weak.” He decides to go to the doctor, who tells him he has the flu. He returns home and goes to sleep. When he wakes up again, he’s in a hospital bed—where he discovers he’s been in a coma for weeks. His parents tell him that he’s suffering from encephalitis—inflammation of the brain—and that he’s now legally a quadriplegic. From there, he begins a long, arduous journey back to normal life—or as normal a life as is still available to him. The road is full of surprises, most of them bad, and the Hero rarely feels hopeful about his chances. Interspersed with this man’s odyssey are self-contained vignettes about others dealing with extreme scenarios: A woman is trapped in an endless simulated space mission; a man in a wheelchair is drawn into a terrorist plot; a kidnapped man waits to be murdered by his captors. Garden’s prose is muscular and biting, capturing the numbing anguish that is the Hero’s general state of being: “He had fallen prey to what is called ‘hospitalization.’ The idea was that time had lost its meaning due to being months in four walls where he was dictated what to do and when. He had also lost all respect for death he had once had. He watched people give up all hope.” The book is a brutal read. To highlight his dehumanizing experience, the Hero does not have a name, and there are few characters in his story. As it goes on, readers will begin to feel the same creeping horror experienced by the Hero. The vignettes make up the weaker half of the equation: They read a bit like undercooked Chuck Palahniuk premises. While the novel does not fully coalesce, it manages to elicit strong feelings, requiring that readers consider human suffering and the uncertainty that it brings.

This raw tale about a harrowing journey leaves a mark.

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-9084-2

Page Count: 204

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2020

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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