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

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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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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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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