An entertaining, inventive and occasionally over-the-top fantasy novel.

WRITTEN IN HELL

Helford (From a Killer’s Mind, 2013) offers a satirical tale of hell and damnation.

Nathaniel “Ate” Blovey is a failed writer of lurid Wild West stories. After his first and only book is a total failure and his girlfriend leaves him, things get even worse: His crude, low-quality writing is a big hit in Hell, so the Devil has him killed to write more hackwork for the damned. The outraged Ate refuses to fulfill the Devil’s wishes and goes on the run, making his way across a Hell that the world of the living never warned him about. Instead of confronting fire, brimstone and medieval imps, he struggles across a perdition that resembles America—specifically, the Old West. The Devil opted to give human souls free rein to build a civilization in Hell’s harsh, alien frontier, and things haven’t gone well. While Ate desperately tries to dodge Hell’s pitfalls, he deals with a cavalcade of absurd, damned souls who all have their own agendas—and some of them are his fans. He moves from misery to fear to fury and back again, facing calamity after calamity on the road to his own eternal destiny. The entire narrative is irreverent fun, with mild overtones of Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins. The pacing is fast and breezy, and the author does an admirable job of designing and describing his version of Hell and the fantastic rules that shape it. His clever, funny tale slyly points fingers at American outlooks and attitudes, although readers who are sensitive to profanity may not find this book to their liking. The characterization and dialogue are outlandishly over-the-top, in an amusing way; no human being has ever had a speech pattern quite like this book’s pompous protagonist (“Little did I know, it was much better received down here, and is surprisingly quite popular amongst the august personages of Hell”). Other supporting characters have equally theatrical personalities, and although most readers will hardly demand a purely naturalistic style in a satire, they may find it a little distracting at times.

An entertaining, inventive and occasionally over-the-top fantasy novel.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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