A visceral debut novel set against the splendor of a national treasure.


This thriller follows four college students as a stalker hunts them on the Appalachian Trail.

Jerry Allen, Diane Cain, Linda Baldwin, and Bill Martin are students from Appalachian State University on their semester break. They’ve decided to hike the Appalachian Trail from Tennessee through North Carolina and into Virginia. As a couple, Diane and Bill have hiked sections of the trail before, but lovers Jerry and Linda are new to the experience. The foursome travels without cellphones, though, which proves to be a dangerous mistake: Diane, while relieving herself away from the group, gets sexually assaulted by a stranger. Bill insists on hunting down the perpetrator, even if they must leave the trail for the deeper woods. When they camp for the night, their wilderness-wise stalker toys with them by circling the camp and throwing firecrackers. Eventually, Bill gets separated from his friends; he has a limited knowledge of the land and finite supplies, so the others must decide whether to search for him or abandon him and save themselves. Diane, meanwhile, harbors a secret that could radically change the whole dynamic of the trip. Later, as exhaustion and fear lead to accidental injuries and deadly weather closes in, the students’ faith in God is tested in ways that rarely happen in everyday life. Author House (So Shall You Reap, 2011, etc.) injects his book with plenty of firsthand experience of the Appalachian Trail, bringing the loveliness of the locale to life (“Brilliant flowers of every color...nestled against the background like splatters of fluorescent paint”). He never shies from detailing his characters’ injuries (“Blood and trapped bowel fluid flowed out, soaking his clothes, resulting in a frozen mass against his skin”), though, or the primitive methods they use to treat them. The young people’s biting quips also feel true-to-life (“Reality was a bitch and in this case it had a name—Diane”). They frequently thank God for small miracles, and by the end, love helps redeem them during the horrifying resolution. Ultimately, House delivers an excellent message about building character through trial.

A visceral debut novel set against the splendor of a national treasure.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-68058-038-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Limitless Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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