Another strong dose of supernatural drama, with a pleasantly diverse cast.

DIVIDED WORLDS

In this second volume of a YA fantasy series, two heroines return to the Faery Realm to confront both personal and Court-threatening demons.

High school seniors Alexis Dearborn and Molly Connolly have recently returned from the Faery Realm. Alexis is now dating Keir, prince of the Dark Court, while Molly has broken up with Dax, an obsessive incubus. As Halloween rolls around, the girls attend a party at their friend Cassi’s house. Molly hopes to move past her previous abusive relationship by joining her biology classmate Dave at the party. But Dax won’t be forgotten. He starts leaving presents for Molly in intrusive ways, like pastries on her doorstep and a musical figurine in her room. He even accosts her in her dreams. Meanwhile, in the Faery Realm, the Solitaries—rogue fae who have renounced their Court affiliations and become feral—are a growing menace. The Courts plan to convene and decide how to handle the Solitaries, and Queen Tynan, Keir’s mother, has summoned Alexis to a private audience. Later, when Dax magically robs Dave of his personality, Molly is determined to face her emotionally manipulative ex-boyfriend and restore her classmate. Yet the girls may not be prepared for all the secrets they’re still to uncover in the Faery Realm. In this expansive sequel, Ridge (Between Worlds, 2017, etc.) delivers broader dangers and a more inclusive cast. She depicts the Solitaries as a horde of furred, scaled mutations. A more refined fright comes from those of the Unseelie Court, who dress in gothic flair and pierce themselves with iron jewelry. Most noteworthy is Ridge’s introduction of Lark, a nonbinary elf who uses them/their/they pronouns. Lark proves integral to the plot, which contrasts the elf with another character, who comes out of the closet only to stand on the sidelines. Ridge injects humor whenever possible, like Alexis’ Tinker Bell Halloween costume, balancing the severity of Molly and Dax’s storyline. His role as the controlling boyfriend is exceptionally rendered, effectively popping out of the fantasy backdrop. This second volume also successfully establishes a major villain to battle in the third installment.

Another strong dose of supernatural drama, with a pleasantly diverse cast.

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-387-40321-9

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2018

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

HOME FRONT

 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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