by John Beachem ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 7, 2017
Solid and diverting fantasy fare.
In this novel, humanity has survived a global apocalypse on a planet that’s similar to Earth—except for a universal abundance of magic, usable by everyone.
A few generations ago, a disaster known as the Flame suddenly shattered every vestige of civilization on the planet, leaving the survivors utterly bereft of all magic. But after “more than a hundred winters,” a new order has arisen—one in which clans eke out a dangerous new existence, rediscovering skills, using primitive technologies, and fighting over the remnants of the enchanted old world. Through this post-apocalyptic landscape travels the merchant caravan of Nestor Galik and his blonde daughter, Miryam, striving to remain neutral among the tribal groups and barter or trade with all of them. Miryam is shrewd and practical, in a stable relationship with well-built and simple-minded Markus, and fiercely protective of her family. When the caravan runs into stuttering fugitive scholar Bertram, Nestor takes pity on the gawky youth, inciting trouble with the local authorities and launching Miryam on an adventure fraught with danger—including the very real possibility that magic may return, and she may well be part of its fearsome rekindling. Beachem’s (The Hunter and the Marked, 2010, etc.) series opener is quite entertaining. The pacing is swift even though the fantasy novel is long at over 570 pages. The characters are broad but sympathetic, although many are types (Nestor is obviously one, while Miryam’s short-tempered independence is more three-dimensional). But the worldbuilding is somewhat inconsistent, with references to currency in a barter-based economy and to some areas being more civilized than others. And the setting is derivative and breaks little new ground apart from using an ostensibly supernatural cause for the planet’s apocalypse. While the dialogue is serviceable, descriptions are sometimes slightly hazy when not depicting action. But fights and physical feats are lovingly and vividly detailed: “Sand got into everything, squeezing past her tightly-closed eyelids and lips, finding its way up her nose, and scraping at the gaping wound in her arm.”Solid and diverting fantasy fare.
Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2017
Page Count: 578
Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2018
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2006
Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.
Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.
Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.
Pub Date: March 1, 2006
Page Count: 400
Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005
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