A masterful historical fantasy that informs as well as enthralls.


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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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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Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s...


 The traumatic homecoming of a wounded warrior.

The daughter of alcoholics who left her orphaned at 17, Jolene “Jo” Zarkades found her first stable family in the military: She’s served over two decades, first in the army, later with the National Guard. A helicopter pilot stationed near Seattle, Jo copes as competently at home, raising two daughters, Betsy and Lulu, while trying to dismiss her husband Michael’s increasing emotional distance. Jo’s mettle is sorely tested when Michael informs her flatly that he no longer loves her. Four-year-old Lulu clamors for attention while preteen Betsy, mean-girl-in-training, dismisses as dweeby her former best friend, Seth, son of Jo’s confidante and fellow pilot, Tami. Amid these challenges comes the ultimate one: Jo and Tami are deployed to Iraq. Michael, with the help of his mother, has to take over the household duties, and he rapidly learns that parenting is much harder than his wife made it look. As Michael prepares to defend a PTSD-afflicted veteran charged with Murder I for killing his wife during a dissociative blackout, he begins to understand what Jolene is facing and to revisit his true feelings for her. When her helicopter is shot down under insurgent fire, Jo rescues Tami from the wreck, but a young crewman is killed. Tami remains in a coma and Jo, whose leg has been amputated, returns home to a difficult rehabilitation on several fronts. Her nightmares in which she relives the crash and other horrors she witnessed, and her pain, have turned Jo into a person her daughters now fear (which in the case of bratty Betsy may not be such a bad thing). Jo can't forgive Michael for his rash words. Worse, she is beginning to remind Michael more and more of his homicide client. Characterization can be cursory: Michael’s earlier callousness, left largely unexplained, undercuts the pathos of his later change of heart. 

Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s aftermath.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-57720-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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