NEXT OF KIN by Joseph Schreiber

NEXT OF KIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A 14-year-old boy, impatient with his family's suburban rituals, gets more than his share of the unusual when he's kidnapped by a girl claiming to be his sister. And that isn't all Nicholas Danzig hears from the abductor who calls herself Anthem: she insists that Nicholas himself is adopted; that he's really the son of a Boston jazzman called Saint Jack; that he was placed with the Danzigs by old family friend ""Uncle"" Titus Heller; that Nicholas, whose real name is Virgil, has an older brother, Ovid, with whom he has a mystic bond that explains why -- even though Anthem is driving him from Michigan to California -- they're running into increasingly heavy snowstorms; and that, before Jack and Titus cut them off, she'd sprouted a pair of wings. Anthem is not only quite a piece of work, but also the author's cunning strategy for spinning ever wilder variations on Nicholas' wild odyssey while keeping the horror that waits at her destination mysterious. You may not realize just how important the mystery is until shortly after the pair reach Anthem's destination, when Nicholas figures out how much of her story is true and the novel immediately takes a nosedive into escape-from-the-bogeyman territory. Even at his most conventional, first-novelist Schreiber has a sharp eye for the kinds of weakness that keep people in thrall to the bad guys. But nothing about Nicholas' peril is equal to his demented, tender abductor's unwitting hints at just how disturbing it's going to be.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1994
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Putnam