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

ISBN: 978-1-63492-540-2

Page Count: 578

Publisher: Booklocker

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2018

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

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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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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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