A fast-paced adventure that delivers an odd mix of Bible-fueled action and clumsy dialogue.

THE NABI

A supernatural novel focuses on harnessing the power of Scripture.

Hampton (The Mentality, 2012, etc.) presents Aiden Zane: an Air Force veteran living a seemingly lonely existence in Edgehaven, Arizona. When readers first meet Aiden, he is in church fighting back tears. The cause of his dismay goes back some years, to a time when he and a close associate named Eran Hewer became “guardians of this world.” While on a special mission in Israel, Aiden and Eran were informed by the prophet Elijah that they would be trained to become Nabi’im. They would learn to harness superherolike powers that come not from a magical item or a radioactive accident but directly from the Holy Spirit. To utilize their abilities, they would quote Scripture. And they would need to get pretty good at that with the many dangers they would face. Eventually, Eran failed to resist temptation and he wound up releasing Lucifer into the world. Lucifer now has new plans for humanity’s destruction. Luckily for Aiden, a bold woman named Maya Hadarah is on his side. Will they have what it takes to stop Lucifer’s latest rebellion? The story progresses quickly and the action is rampant. As both fists and biblical quotes fly, the book provides a fresh angle on the idea of an epic battle. Perhaps most intriguingly, Lucifer even summons some bad guys from the Bible, such as the Canaanite god Moloch. While such details give the novel depth, other aspects are not as tightly knit. Dialogue can be awkward and even confusing, as when a policeman looking for someone named Bloodsport says to Maya: “If you don’t know where he is, then I don’t think we’d be wrong to assume that you’re him yourself!” The scene is further jumbled by the fact that Maya later repeats what happened to Aiden even though readers are well aware of that situation. Yet the narrative keeps moving with angels, demons, and the fate of the world hanging in the balance. It all culminates in an ending that is as unexpected as the idea of heroes powered by sacred texts.

A fast-paced adventure that delivers an odd mix of Bible-fueled action and clumsy dialogue.

Pub Date: April 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-68328-6

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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