Sure to sate readers hungry for an old-fashioned zombie story that takes a few steps beyond standard fare.


The Reawakening


Souza’s debut horror novel, the first of a proposed trilogy, tells the story of a small band of people in Maine holed up in a house and fighting to keep genetically mutated creatures at bay.

Famous novelist Thom Swiftley and his daughter, Dar, drive from Boston to see Thom’s brother, Rick, a noted scientist working on an isolated farm. Sickly livestock is merely the beginning of the carnage, as dead animals come back to life with a bite that results in eventual death—and the deceased return to life as stalking human/animal hybrids. Soon, others take refuge at Rick’s place, which is largely cut off from the world, while Thom just wants to make it back home to his wife and son. The author’s novel has traits of a zombie story—an endless onslaught of the living dead, survivors in a confined space and an implicit apocalypse—but he avoids yielding to formula by employing some creative spins. There are no true zombies, but rather infected beasts or transmogrified crossbreeds, and not all of them stagger around like ghouls; a number of creatures, mutated by birds, can even fly. Sometimes, the novel feels cluttered with ideas—Thom’s faith pitted against Rick’s science-based beliefs; scientific experimentation; global chaos in the wake of an economic collapse; creatures representing a potential next step in evolution, etc.—that could have been more gradually introduced and developed more deeply in subsequent volumes in the series. Thom, often with his family in mind, is mostly sympathetic, but Dar—a teenage girl who had attempted suicide shortly before the animals began attacking—is harder to like, as her strength never quite outweighs her immaturity; she resists authority, insisting that she’s misunderstood, just like any other teenager. The most impressive attribute is Souza’s well-thought-out setting, particularly during the winter months, when piles of snow keep the creatures at a distance and a bitter cold freezes the corpses. Readers may also appreciate the wily foreshadowing and a remark made about a college professor turning students into “liberal zombies.”

Sure to sate readers hungry for an old-fashioned zombie story that takes a few steps beyond standard fare.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1618680815

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Permuted Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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