A suspenseful, epic battle between man and pitiless nature.

THE DARK HEART OF EVERY WILD THING

A hunter seeks both vengeance and inner peace.

Set in the rugged landscape of western Canada, poet Fasano’s debut novel tells the dramatic story of a solo hunter’s Ahab-like pursuit of a formidable mountain lion—“the mind of the wild”—while simultaneously battling his lingering grief over the tragic deaths of his wife and young son. Endangered by his decision to prolong his quest as late autumn turns suddenly to winter, the unnamed narrator’s situation quickly turns dire; he finds himself forced to battle injury, hunger, exhaustion, and his own fear as his role shifts between pursuer and pursued. In the novel’s many vivid descriptive passages, Fasano unashamedly reveals his poetic DNA, describing how “the sun was already casting its lattice against the spruces and opening the thrushes’ throats in the saxifrage” or “the early moon in the chasm above me, dark wings crossing it in the vengeance of their abiding.” Some readers will adore this lush prose; others will find its persistence occasionally aggravating. What should unite them, however, is Fasano’s ability to tell a pulsating story featuring a resolute man, alone in the beautiful but unforgiving wilderness, who must bring to bear all of his resources of endurance and courage merely to survive. The encounter between this determined human and his equally imposing animal adversary is as profoundly psychological as it is intensely physical. As these creatures stalk each other on the snowy mountainside, their deadly dance is complicated by the presence of two other hunters and their pack of hounds. Fasano’s resolution of the taut adventure tale is both surprising and truly satisfying. He enhances the pacing of that story with flashbacks to the narrator’s life with his late wife—a former ballet dancer—and scenes with his son, contrasting the tenderness of their relationship with his tension-filled one with his own father.

A suspenseful, epic battle between man and pitiless nature.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-913007-06-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Platypus Press

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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