Takes time to find its footing, but a promising start for a sure-to-be epic tale of combative worlds.

Demons & Angels

From the Walking Between Worlds series , Vol. 1

After surviving a serious injury, a man soon realizes that he not only sees and hears demons, but feels destined to hunt and kill them in this series-opening supernatural debut.

Paul Stone’s devastation at witnessing a van smash into his best friend, Kris Reed, is compounded when Paul himself, checking on his maimed bestie, is sideswiped by a second car. He wakes up from a three-day coma, but Kris unfortunately dies. So it’s perfectly natural that Paul assumes he’s hallucinating when he later sees Kris watching TV. Kris, however, is there, a Guide for Paul, who as it happens is a Walker. Paul can cross between worlds, retaining his human life while also destroying demons—little red, horned beasts invisible to humans and feeding off individuals’ fear and negativity. Paul has help from Guide Kris (mostly providing information) as well as a healing ability and a special pocket watch that counts down to impending demon encounters. But something bigger is at play: Walkers are turning up dead, the only capable killers being God or another Walker. Paul teams up with a moderately good devil (devil’s not synonymous with demon), seeking assistance from both heaven and hell. But who knows what will transpire if Paul’s really the Stone Walker, prophesied to wage war on all demons and devils. While much of the story focuses on Paul learning about tales of angels and demons in conflict, the new Walker does engage in fisticuffs with demons and a few other things. The mystery of murdered Walkers wraps up in a satisfying, rapid-paced final act with bloody battles and a surprise or two. Contrarily, multiple chapters devoted to a character named Mason, who was driving one of those vehicles at the beginning, seem disconnected. The plotlines are indisputably linked, with Mason having his own demon. But his story too often veers into lengthy, uneventful scenes, like discussing music/musicians with potential lover/band mate Sarah, while his coda is weirdly ambiguous. Some of the main plot elements Norry (Zombie Zero: The First Zombie, 2016, etc.) leaves dangling, including the idea of an Original Demon. But the blistering cliffhanger ending makes clear that the author’s setting the stage for subsequent series entries.

Takes time to find its footing, but a promising start for a sure-to-be epic tale of combative worlds.

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9907280-2-3

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Sudden Insight Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2016

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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