An immersive tussle between belief and uncertainty.

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SPELLBOUND

From the Pagan Light series , Vol. 2

A teenage girl faces doubts about love and fear about the origins of her psychic abilities in the second paranormal fantasy in Keltner’s (Possessed, 2019, etc.) Pagan Light series.

It has been four months since 18-year-old Jackie Turov learned to embrace her psychic gift—the touch that enables her to “read” the past and to heal people. It has also been four months since she fell for David, a 24-year-old seminarian. Jackie and David are in love, but in two months’ time David will enter the priesthood (apparently Russian Orthodox), either as a married man or forever to remain celibate. Jackie is sure of her feelings but worries that David’s religious beliefs won’t allow him to accept her powers. This worry only grows when an old woman at church accuses Jackie and Babu, her great-grandmother, of being witches, and it grows still further when the woman starts choking to death and David won’t let Jackie help her. Jackie glimpses terrible events in the woman’s past. She senses that Babu was involved somehow and, despite the love she feels for her great-grandmother, can’t help wondering if she herself has inherited a spark of evil. Babu is evasive on the matter. Jackie needs to know. So when David asks her to travel with him to Russia—where his family lives in a small village near where Babu grew up—she agrees. David asks Jackie to marry him, but Jackie finds herself caught between Christian and pagan beliefs, between faith and magic. Will she and David live happily ever after, or are they fated for something much darker? Keltner narrates in the third person, past tense, mostly from Jackie’s perspective but occasionally from that of her best friend, Jason. The story is simply told yet brought to life with well-targeted descriptive passages, particularly with regard to the Russian characters and rural Russian setting. (The dialogue features quite a lot of untranslated Russian, but this adds to the atmosphere and is contextualized to give the gist.) Jackie herself comes across as less of an individual than in the first book in the series—less of an outcast, more a naïve, love-struck teen—but this regression turns out to be plot-driven; as tension builds and the story ramps up, Jackie at heart remains a protagonist that young readers will invest in.

An immersive tussle between belief and uncertainty.

Pub Date: July 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-07-543919-3

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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