A masterful historical fantasy that informs as well as enthralls.

GODDESS CHOSEN

This thriller sees a businessman with a dark past battle a magician determined to topple Haiti’s spiritual legacy.

Charles Redmond manages an import/export business in Washington, D.C. Joseph de Alverado, one of his clients, is an unsettling eccentric. He orders what seem like “religious temple furnishings” and can open a sealed shipping crate barehanded. When Charles dreams of Joseph as a demon, he visits his psychiatrist. Dr. Sanantha Mauwad, who lived in Haiti as a child, recognizes on Charles’ leather wallet the symbol for Papa Legba, the Voodou Jesus figure. She writes an antidepressant prescription and asks if Charles has been to the Caribbean. He says no. Meanwhile, in a Haitian temple, Joseph reports to Silas Alverado, his “master.” Silas may look like a mere elderly man, but he’s Chosen—he “died one hundred generations ago” as Royarna, the High Priest of Amun. The magician plans to “re-enshrine His Dark Majesty” Osiris and convert Haitian Voodou followers into worshippers of the faded Egyptian deity. Silas’ demonic work takes him to the British Museum in London and a tomb near the site of ancient Thebes, among other locations, where corpses pile up in his wake. Charles, who lied about having been to the Caribbean, implores the Voodou love goddess Erzulie to protect him from Joseph. Hartlove (Daughter Cell, 2013, etc.) fashions a riveting blend of history, religion, and horror in this briskly paced series opener. He carries readers from grounded moments to dreamlike fantasy with steely ease, as in the line “A thousand birds and insects all noisily took flight as the ground buckled, the trees swayed, and the terrain undulated as the Serpent of Creation slid through the jungle floor.” The magical Silas performs some truly grisly acts, including possessing a teenage girl and using her to seduce and then murder an Egyptian guard. The author balances his ferocious imagination with historical passion, giving Charles a tragic, though captivating, backstory as a Haitian death squad member. Sanantha remains the heart of the tale, offering Charles human support as Silas challenges the devil in a potentially world-rending finale.

A masterful historical fantasy that informs as well as enthralls.

Pub Date: July 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949139-58-7

Page Count: 269

Publisher: Paper Angel Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2019

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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