An often mysterious but thoroughly horrifying and macabre tale.

WISTWOOD

An obscure village becomes the site of disconcerting, otherworldly incidents in this supernatural novel.

A lifelong Californian, Nebraska “Brask” Adams has yearned for a “real small-town experience.” Now that he has a book deal with a publisher as well as an advance, he can escape his dour life, including his devoutly religious, condescending older sister. He opts for an affordable cabin rental in the village of Wistwood, somewhere near Big Sur. At the same time, schoolteacher Schuyler Brody, apparently unhappy with her “insufferable” students, is eying an antiques shop there. But Shep Daltry has darker motivations. He’s a White cop under media scrutiny for savagely beating a woman of color and mother of five. Though his department clears him of any charges, he heads to Wistwood for a new job, which involves sinister “instructions.” It appears there are two enigmatic individuals with a plan that seems initially vague awaiting these people’s arrivals. Brask is hardly settled in Wistwood when he senses something off—at first, just a store but soon, the entire village. Yet even if he can convince fellow villagers, will anyone be able to leave? Parts of Kieran’s chilling story are deliberately hazy, with unknown characters discussing cryptic objectives. But detailed backstories ground the narrative, pitting villagers such as former British rock star Lleyton Grayle against something unearthly. Crisp prose gives largely abstract occurrences a visual component: “When she laughed, brief and mocking, the sounds sprang as arrowheads, razor-sharp and dipped in poison from her lips.” Later chapters offer a few revelations, although the author provides enough clues that most readers will have an idea as to what’s unfolding. The final act is disturbing and decidedly more visceral, with a satisfying, open-ended denouement.

An often mysterious but thoroughly horrifying and macabre tale.

Pub Date: April 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9885681-0-5

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Brightbourne Media

Review Posted Online: July 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A grade-A, weirdly comforting, and familiar stew of domestic drama, slasher horror, and primeval evil.

THE BOOK OF ACCIDENTS

A family that's banished itself to the woods of rural Pennsylvania finds more than they bargained for when supernatural forces decide they would make quite a snack.

Prolific and delightfully profane, Wendig pulled off a good trick last time with his sprawling, inventive, and prescient apocalypse chronicle, Wanderers (2019). This is another doorstopper, but here he returns to macabre horror reminiscent of his supernatural Miriam Black novels, injected with a juicy dose of Stephen King–like energy. An eerie opening introduces Edmund Walker Reese, a serial killer strapped into Pennsylvania’s electric chair circa 1990 for murdering four girls—a killer who disappears the second the switch is flipped. In the present day, former Philly cop Nate Graves is stewing over the death of his abusive father, who's left him a home in the woods. Maddie, Nate’s artist wife, thinks it’s perfect for her work, not to mention a natural refuge for their hypersensitive son, Oliver, who's imbued with not only a preternatural empathy for others, but also a gift for lending the pained some solace. At Nate's new job as a Fish and Game officer, his partner, Axel Figeroa, always has one eye open for trouble because of their proximity to Ramble Rocks, where Reese committed his dirty deeds, as does the Graves' neighbor Jed Homackie, a whiskey-drinking peacenik with secrets of his own. As happens, things get weird. Nate starts seeing his dead father around every corner. Maddie experiences fugue states that aren’t simpatico with her newfound predilection for chainsaw sculpture. Oliver gets the worst of it, finding himself caught between a couple of vicious bullies and a newfound frenemy, Jake, who quickly emerges as someone­­­­—or something—far darker than he appears. The characters are eccentric and likable even if their plight isn’t quite unpredictable, and the book will be catnip to horror fans, complete with meddling kids, doppelgangers, dimensional fissures, demons, and ghosts; it's a prototypical edge-of-your-seat plunge into real terror.

A grade-A, weirdly comforting, and familiar stew of domestic drama, slasher horror, and primeval evil.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-18213-6

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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