A shocking cautionary tale that skillfully tackles the realities of substance abuse.




Recovering alcoholic Stevens (The Devil Speaks Louder: We Stood at the Turning Point, 2014) returns with a series installment that offers a similar message in a much more insistent format.

In this second book in The Devil Speaks Louder series, the author returns to his theme of the damage that alcohol and drugs cause not just to addicts, but also to those around them. The series’ first book, he writes, was aimed at a middle school audience and was written while he was in recovery. This new volume, written while Stevens was in the midst of an extended relapse, is much darker than its predecessor, reflecting his mindset at the time. As he explains in his introduction: “My mental state ebbed and flowed during its construction. For most of it, I was not a sane man.” At the center of this novel is Jason “Jay” Braswell, a second-generation alcoholic who’s learned little from the events of the last novel, which saw his best friend imprisoned following a fatal drunken driving accident. Sitting around his apartment, Jason “drank beer maniacally, absorbed only by three hastily-devoured freezer-burned meat byproduct patties and potato paste.” Later, he gets deeply involved with drugs, and Stevens incisively details what happens to the others who get caught in the vortex of Jay’s addiction: his girlfriend, Abby; her relatively straight-arrow crush, Jamie; a porn producer/drug dealer; and a recovering alcoholic police officer. These supporting characters all ring true, and Stevens effectively paints a gruesome picture of Jay’s decline: “He lay in the tub, head lolled to one side, caked rivulets of white sputum resembling fangs traced down from the corners of his stupidly-open mouth.” His is a graphic, scared-straight approach, and his novel may succeed in stopping some readers from reaching for another drink. Stevens is a man on a mission, and his series shines a bright light on a problem that often thrives in the dark.

A shocking cautionary tale that skillfully tackles the realities of substance abuse.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5049-2384-2

Page Count: 184

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet