A fine fantasy novel that will provide readers with a good weekend escape from reality.

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CHILD OF THE SWORD

BOOK 1 OF THE GODS WITHIN

Doty (When Dead Ain’t Enough, 2012, etc.) conjures a magical world of witches, wizards and war in this high-energy first installment of an epic-fantasy series.

This dark tale charges out of the gate as Rat—a street orphan about 6 or 7 years old—runs through a medieval marketplace with his “one good eye” fixed on an unsuspecting man’s purse of coins. Little Rat, covered with diseased sores and clothed in filthy rags, survives by hiding and stealing whatever he can. When Rat successfully steals the purse, angry market vendors chase him into a one-way alley, where he hides in the shadows. Unbeknownst to Rat, his hiding skill is a form of magic that allows him to wrap shadows around himself. Enter Lord Roland, a respected and feared clan witch, who is impressed by Rat’s magical potential. He stops the mob from hurting the raggedy Rat and takes him to his castle, the House of Elhiyne, where he and his wife, AnnaRail, eventually adopt him as a son. Rat is renamed Morgin, and he often butts heads with his powerful grandmother, the witch Olivia. She and Roland school him in the art of magic and swordsmanship over several years. After an ancient ancestral conflict between clans leads to war, the adult Morgin has an argument with Olivia, and she banishes him from Elhiyne; nonetheless, he vows to fight to save his family. While the book’s minor characters can be a bit clichéd (a beautiful blonde angel helps Morgin), most of the main characters are well-rounded and have human emotions; for example, the fearsome old Olivia is shown to have a soft spot in her heart for family. Meanwhile, Morgin’s struggles as he deals with his own fears make him a very sympathetic hero. Readers who like action will find gruesome battle scenes reminiscent of The Iliad, with much death and hacking of body parts. A romantic subplot between Morgin and his beautiful wife, Rhianne, while intriguing, doesn’t overwhelm the action. However, the history of the different clans can be confusing, and the ending contains some unresolved issues, which may disappoint some readers. That said, the conclusion carefully props open the door for the author’s next chapter.

A fine fantasy novel that will provide readers with a good weekend escape from reality.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1938701887

Page Count: 422

Publisher: Telemachus Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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