A knotty and evocative search for identity.


From the Pagan Light series , Vol. 1

A teenage girl with psychic powers must deal with persecution and relationship issues in this coming-of-age YA paranormal novel.

Seventeen-year-old Jackie Turov is known at school as “Goth Girl” or “Virgin Queen,” the latter because she had a vision in church when she was 12, one that tragically came true, the former because she now dresses in goth style, trying to distance herself from the notoriety of that incident. The problem is Jackie’s prescience wasn’t a one-off. She picks up on emotions and cannot help “reading” any person or object she touches. Among her peers, she is a pariah—a freak. Even her father can’t cope with her strangeness. He divorced Jackie’s mother and moved away. Despite this, Jackie has found her place. She has good relationships with her mom and great-grandmother. She has a small but tight group of friends. But this is about to change. After a bad solar storm leaves the town rife with psychic energy, Trish, one of Jackie’s friends, calls a demon into the world to stir up negative emotions. Jackie’s best pal, Jason, wants to be more than friends. David, a young seminarian, tries to entice Jackie back to church. She is conflicted: Can she master her emotions, or will the shell she’s made for herself crack apart? In this series opener, Keltner (Obsession, 2013, etc.) writes simply but effectively in the third person, crafting characters from small details while striking a good balance between the story’s paranormal and personal threads. Jackie’s Russian background adds unobtrusive depth to her situation. The fact that neither she nor her mother speaks Russian—while her great-grandmother doesn’t converse in English—evokes an assimilation that contrasts with Jackie’s being made an outcast for nonethnic reasons. Jackie’s religious upbringing makes her shun her powers, and this question of self runs through all aspects of her life. In terms of romance, the interlocking love triangles (Jackie-Jason-Trish; Jason-Jackie-David) seem quite natural in their shifting patterns. The dialogue sits well. All told, Jackie’s story moves quickly and engagingly, and though the ending is perhaps a bit chaotic, teen readers will find much to like here.

A knotty and evocative search for identity.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-79165-741-3

Page Count: 333

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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