A violent, dramatic, and ultimately hopeful debut despite some pacing issues.

MELHARA

From the Melhara series , Vol. 1

In this contemporary horror/fantasy novel, a Canadian woman confronts her destiny when a demon claims her as his queen.

Kyra Parker, 35, has been trying to live a normal life with her husband, James Parker, and 8-year-old son, Xavier. She and her best friend, Alexis Bennett, are secretly witches, but Kyra doesn’t talk anymore about the bad dreams and strange events that she experienced in her childhood. Her attempt at normalcy ends when she’s kidnapped and brutally beaten by associates of Alastor, a mesmerizingly handsome demon, straight out of her nightmares, who wants her to rule the world alongside him. “Dreams of angels, demons, magic, war, blood, death—and the fear and hope that accompanied them” soon come flooding back to her, and she’s forced to accept his demands in order to protect family members and friends who’ve also been kidnapped. Thus Kyra becomes demonic herself, wreaking havoc with Alastor, bringing down governments, and building an army of released convicts. Soon her friends and their new allies, including a priest and two other mysterious figures, organize a resistance movement, guided by a prophecy that Kyra’s special heritage will allow her to overcome Alastor’s evil. But first, they must reclaim her from Alastor’s terrible influence. Debut author Tollefson often keeps up a quick pace in this story, which delivers plenty of gory supernatural action and a dash of eroticism. She also handles dialogue and description with facility. However, the large size of the cast sometimes slows things down, as does the fact that several characters have similar names (such as Alexis, Axel, and Alastor). It’s also problematic during fight scenes, as readers sometimes have to track half a dozen characters or more through complicated choreography. The sections that explain supernatural background information, such as magical rules and their exceptions, also drag. That said, the novel’s spirit of resistance to evil will resonate with many readers even if its graphically described scenes of blood, torture, and suffering don’t appeal to everyone.

A violent, dramatic, and ultimately hopeful debut despite some pacing issues. 

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9953086-1-9

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Lost Girl Creations

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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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