An often jaunty and thoroughly entertaining story of young love.

THE WITCH OF THE HILLS

In this fantasy/romance, a teenager’s destiny may encompass falling for a witch and saving a hidden realm of dreams while safeguarding his own world.

Heading to Wisconsin for college, Brian Danahey’s solo road trip is sidetracked by car trouble, an apparently empty tank. Luckily, Rebecca Church shows up and offers her cabin as a temporary refuge. She’s the girl of his dreams; that is, she looks just like the figure being pursued by a hangman in Brian’s recurring nightmare. Turns out Rebecca’s been waiting for Brian, certain he’s the one prophesied to stop an imagination-eating void from swallowing all of the World of Mortal Dreams. Without nourishment provided by the waking world’s cousin, people’s spirits will shrivel and die. Strictly adhering to the Witches Code, Rebecca can only relay information to Brian via riddles, dreams, or illusions. Starting with a book of Rebecca’s poems, Brian slowly learns about the other realm and the prophecy. He finds unexpected allies along the way as well as adversaries, particularly Abigail, an imp who hates Rebecca. More important, he untangles Rebecca’s intricate past: she’s effectively a prisoner, and Brian may be more determined to rescue the girl he loves than the dual worlds. Fraser’s (Faulty Bones, 2016) Romeo-and-Juliet tale brims with preternatural turns and diverting romance. Thwarting the void entails a few tortuous decisions, such as Rebecca having a limited number of times to see Brian before disappearing forever. But the young couple’s evolving relationship is the engaging story’s focus and true essence. The two are generally apart, making their shared scenes all the more endearing, while Fraser opts for more lighthearted humor than sweet nothings. Readers, for one, are treated to a glimpse of possessive Rebecca telling Brian’s video store co-worker: “I see you’re still hanging around my Brian!” Traversing another realm likewise allows for enjoyable appearances by a historical figure or two and a tie to a relevant, centuries-old event in Salem.

An often jaunty and thoroughly entertaining story of young love.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2017

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

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DEVOLUTION

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

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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