A colorful and captivating time-travel adventure with fearsome creatures.

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CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE

A STEAMPUNK THRILLER

A punk rocker wakes up in a Victorian world where unusual beasts plague Boston—still under British rule—in this debut steampunk thriller.

The novel begins with Sarah, in Victorian garb, witnessing a strange creature attack and whisk away a beggar near Boston Common. The action then shifts to Kevin Barnes, a “throwback punk band” musician sporting a purple mohawk, waiting for his “contemporary world” commuter train to Boston. A businessman who identifies himself as Roland asks Kevin to watch a briefcase and promptly disappears. Kevin boards the train and Sarah, in modern dress, becomes his seatmate. Kevin dozes off, then awakens to a transformed train—it runs on steam; British soldiers are aboard; and Sarah wears a Victorian outfit. The duo meets up with British game hunter Silas Cunningham and architectural genius Niles Barton, who have come to Boston to kill two Rhino-pards—a rhino and leopard combination created by a “most brilliant and disturbing” French scientist—which are wreaking havoc on the city. Kevin becomes gun bearer to these hunters as they explore the steam tunnels beneath Boston searching for their prey. Soon realizing their weapons are ineffective, the allies decide to try to kill the beasts by steam explosion, using Sarah as bait. By the thriller’s end, a British ironclad and a mysterious airship also join the conflict, with the strangely glowing scientist managing to escape with a surviving Rhino-pard. Kevin, too, considers exiting, but then makes a fateful exchange on his return train. Dennehy sets into motion an engaging time-travel and steampunk hybrid that includes pithy pit stops for comic commentary, including Barton’s snarky remark about the Boston Tea Party memorial (“Never seen a monument commemorating a lost war”). The narrative’s airship grand finale is particularly enjoyable and a splashy deus ex machina extravaganza. This novel is rather brief, however, leaving many of the mechanics fueling Dennehy’s engine (the role of Roland, for example) somewhat unclear. Still, it’s a fun and fascinating mashup—and a promising setup for further steampunk shenanigans.

A colorful and captivating time-travel adventure with fearsome creatures.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-925493-99-3

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Severed Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2016

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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