An intelligently constructed and exciting peek into the distant past.

IMHOTEP

In this historical thriller, three Americans find themselves transported to ancient Egypt and thrust into the political intrigue of the day. 

Tim Hope is an American tourist trekking through Egypt forlornly, anguished over the death of his fiancee. Two Americans he’s befriended wander off to explore the Tomb of Kanakht and mysteriously disappear. Concerned for their safety, Tim searches for the couple, Brian Aldwin and Diane Maclaine, but instead unwittingly steps through some sort of portal and travels back in time 5,000 years to an Egypt before the pyramids and the age of Moses. Tim discovers that Brian and Diane stumbled into the portal as well, and all three are suspected by some to be gods, a perception reinforced by heroic deeds performed by Brian and Tim. Problematically, the world they now inhabit, Kemet or The Two Lands, is rife with intramural conflict. After suffering seven years of a devastating famine, King Djoser’s reign is threatened by secret rivals, including those close to him who claim loyalty. Further, Tim’s and Brian’s lives are menaced by political forces that fear their popularity with the people, the consequence of feats of bravery and compassion. Tim, adopting the name and role of a famous architect and adviser to the king, Imhotep, risks his life to properly direct the course of history. Meanwhile, all three Americans are drawn to this unfamiliar way of life and have to decide if they wish to remain indefinitely or—if they can figure out how—return to the future. This is the first installment of a four-part series by Dubs (Vagabond Retirement, 2017, etc.). While the undergirding premise of the plot is wildly fantastical, the author has a peculiar talent for rendering the implausible in credible terms. In addition, the depiction of ancient Egypt is masterfully executed, both authentic and accessible, with the narrative including Tim’s descriptions of the landscape (“He saw in the distance the green of the Nile’s valley, richer and darker and fuller than he remembered it. And along the river, rising from its banks he saw a city of mud brick homes surrounded by a thick white wall: The long-dead city that Tim knew as Memphis”). But the real draw of the book is its characters, especially Tim, drawn in lushly substantive terms. 

An intelligently constructed and exciting peek into the distant past.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5190-7028-9

Page Count: 444

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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