A sequel presents an ample and pronounced Christian doctrine but has a tale of individuals protecting their home against...


The Long Home


From the Long Home series , Vol. 2

Mortals and immortals reintroducing science and technology to New Earth have their peaceful realm threatened by evil beings planning an uprising in this second installment of a fantasy series.

Adam and Nim, who died together in a car accident, find each other again as immortals. They live in Protection, a town on New Earth, many years after Prince Kristos purified the planet of the chaos that the wicked Teufel had instigated. The realm’s also inhabited by mortals, including Adam and Nim’s old pal Rocky, now going by Pete, who may be looking for redemption after giving his soul to Teufel. The inhabitants try to make sense of the world’s new natural laws (a north-south equator as well as East and West Poles) while getting assistance from educated, recognizable immortals, not the least of whom is Isaac Newton. Adam and others are likewise striving to maintain a “peaceable kingdom” led by the prince, son of Rule, “Omnipotent of all universes.” Unfortunately, an insurrection may be on the horizon, starting with the imminent release of Teufel and his demons from their chained imprisonment in the hellish Pit. But there are signs of rebellion against the kingdom elsewhere, as a tragedy claims the life of 30 men and an attempted kidnapping is nearly successful. To ensure tranquility is preserved, those on the side of Rule may have to wage war for Earth. Though much of the story’s akin to religious allegory, Stilson (The Long Home: Now & Then, 2014) makes it abundantly clear what’s good and what’s evil. There are elements of (primarily) Christianity: references to original sin coupled with more ambiguous turns, like Adam conceivably being chosen by the prince—a prophet, perhaps? This second series entry focuses a bit more on science, and characters’ speculative conversations become intriguing (the Earth is possibly larger in mass than the spun-out-of-orbit moon that’s apparently missing). There are even touches of sci-fi, with immortals capable of “translating” (essentially teleporting) through space and time. The narrative builds toward an inevitable confrontation that, despite scenes such as an organ recital slowing down its steady momentum, delivers a climactic battle.

A sequel presents an ample and pronounced Christian doctrine but has a tale of individuals protecting their home against malicious baddies at its core.

Pub Date: March 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9974163-0-5

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Word Edge

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2016

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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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