An intriguing, multifaceted story that needs polish.

THE ELIZABETHS

In this cross-dimensional novel, Mowery juxtaposes three versions of Elizabeth Ann Anderson, which differ by much more than haircut.

The month of June packs years’ worth of tension and shock for Liz, Beth and Eliza, each of whom resides in a beach house connected to her childhood. Shortly before each woman loses her past or present significant other, lengthy, unnatural soliloquies or forced flashbacks rattle off their details. Unfortunately, such infodumps, along with sentences lacking much-needed punctuation, detract from a potentially interesting story. Mowery gets the three stories time-coordinated via seemingly unrelated catalyzing events—Liz’s cherished husband, Peter, dies in a plane crash; Beth loses the love of her life, Maxine, to cancer; Eliza murders her philandering ex-husband and his lover (who was also Eliza’s friend), Peg. Eliza congratulates herself not only for failing to digest her daily dose of bipolar-disorder medication—a flub she credits with fueling her murderous act—but also for finding a scapegoat in the form of Peg’s cuckolded husband. She exonerates herself from guilt by promising to do good deeds—a mindset that’s difficult to empathize with. Moving along, Mowery weaves in the equally dramatic (though easier to accept) threads of Liz’s crash course in the secret identities of her deceased husband, as well as Beth’s benevolent intervention on behalf of her niece, a lesbian who recently outed herself. This novel’s intrigue lies in its core scenario: a single individual, traumatized early in life, branches into three women leading parallel lives in overlapping physical space but in distinct dimensions. As they’re meted out, mirrored details and events build suspense that pays off, but not to an impressive degree. In the unpolished narrative style, climactic moments suffer from inconsistent characterization of the Elizabeths and explanations developed in Elizabeth’s unprompted talks to herself. Whittled down to its bare-bones plot, the novel has potential, but for that potential to be realized, expository information needs to be seamlessly incorporated into the narrative, actions and words need to be consistent, and the narrative on the whole needs to be edited for clarity.

An intriguing, multifaceted story that needs polish.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470077433

Page Count: 180

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 55

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more