One superman’s bloody battles with negative power run amok.

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THE WELLSPRING IMMORTAL

Beneath the gore of Nolan’s first novel lies a morality play in which a shaman passes along 1,200 years worth of life lessons to his successor through a gruesome fight that only one can survive.

Young Pico becomes an immortal superhuman, and he must choose good or evil as his driving force. This moral choice is also a physical one, because he was made immortal by the magic of the wellsprings. Its power comes with an insatiable addiction that can be fed only by blood and mastered only by supreme mental control. Pico learns the necessary skills through the teachings of his mentor, Kani, first in person, then by written legacy, then through harsh experience on his own. His story is a tour of violence across an Earth-like planet peopled with familiar archetypes—early Native Americans, Celts, Christians—altered to fit that world’s supernatural conditions. Everyone is fodder for the predatory Sachems, an immortal race fueled by the wellsprings. Pico becomes the strongest of them, and must either emulate Kani and control his addiction so he can foster the world or succumb and consume the population. Either way, he must conquer his nemesis, Enos. Once Kani’s friend, Enos chose the dark path while Kani chose the light, and only one of them can remain. Nolan tells their story in a dispassionate narrative with revolving viewpoints. Although engaging, the book comes across like a flat horror novel, because the characters react shallowly, if at all, to continual—and often extreme—brutality. Squeamish readers may need to skim in order to follow the plot without being revolted by some descriptions. And technically picky readers will stumble on consistent misuse of “lie” for “lay” and canoe paddles referred to as oars. Fantasy fans will appreciate the heroic-quest flavor and credible worldbuilding. Anyone romantically inclined, however, will want to hear about the positive-energy wellsprings instead of just the negative ones. Given that the book may launch a series, stories about positive wellsprings may emerge.

One superman’s bloody battles with negative power run amok.

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615554150

Page Count: 158

Publisher: ICURYY, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2012

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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