The glimmering continuation of a detailed, emotionally rich saga.

Countryside

THE TEARS OF ADINA

Cope’s sequel to Countryside: The Book of the Wise (2014) sees young Luke and his friends try to outwit a villainous hunter to find the location of a magical artifact.

Luke Rayburn, the 12-year-old scion of the magical town called Countryside, has spent his summer vacation with his family on the island of Shalloke, off the coast of the Carolinas. Before returning to their secret home, the Rayburn clan encounters bane wolves. Luke uses his light training to protect himself with darkness, but his father soon chastises him against doing so again: “It twists your senses and it scars your soul.” The boy also learns that a suspicious character he saw on the train ride home—a grizzled hunter—leads the wolf-pack using darkness. After returning home, Luke helps defend a burning orchard against gnomes and begins further training with Mayeem (a mermaid) and Samech (a centaur). Luke then hears a campfire tale about tragic lovers Peter and Anora—but perhaps the fate of these fictional characters, which is tied up with the wolves’, contains a grain of truth. Eventually, the young hero grows frustrated with the adults keeping him from learning more about the Book of the Wise; aided by Matt, Sam, and a few others, he leaps into the fray against the evil threatening Countryside. Cope uses this second outing, with its large magical cast, to weave another satisfying mystery and continue the long game of his overall tale. Early on, he reminds readers that a prophetic red star to the north foretells doom with the line, “Seems higher this year...Only six years left.” His dynamic of light and darkness recalls Star Wars, as does the mystical theme that “everything is made of the Flame” and that those who ignore it “wear a blindfold.” Nevertheless, the story’s elemental disciplines offer truly open-ended innovations, because, as Samech says, “your ability to use them is controlled by what you can think of and what you think can be done.” The central mystery will draw readers into an enchanting final tableau, leaving expectations galloping for the third volume.

The glimmering continuation of a detailed, emotionally rich saga.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 311

Publisher: Tiner Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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