McElwain’s cross between a Regency romance and a time-travel fantasy combines a mediocre mystery with an exposé of many of...

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CAUGHT IN TIME

An FBI agent struggles to adjust when she accidentally time travels back to the Regency period in England.

Kendra Donovan fell back in time during an operation at Aldridge Castle, and when she wound up 200 years before she started out, she became the ward of the Duke of Aldridge, who knows her secret and is fascinated by her knowledge of the unimaginable future. Kendra proved her worth by saving the hide of the duke’s nephew, Alec, Lord Sutcliffe, who was accused of murdering his former mistress (A Twist in Time, 2017). When her repeated attempts to return home fail, she and the duke travel to one of his smaller estates in Lancashire, where he hopes she’ll become more adept in adjusting to the mores of 1815. Caught in a fog, they pass a group of Luddites just before bedding down at an inn. The magistrate and constable to whom the duke reports the group’s presence plan to inspect the nearby cotton mill when they get news that the equipment has been damaged and the mill manager, Mr. Stone, murdered. Constable Jameson is ready to blame the Luddites until Kendra points out new evidence. The duke sends for Alec, who’s become Kendra’s lover, while Kendra interviews Mr. Biddle, the mill’s assistant manager, and its owner, Lord Nathan Bancroft, the Earl of Langfrey, a man with a mysterious past. Stone, a poor manager with a bad reputation, was much disliked. When Stone’s wife is tortured and murdered, Kendra wonders what the killer is so desperate to recover. Frustrated by her powerlessness as a woman, she must rely on the duke for entree despite her superior investigative skills. Even so, she solves the crimes while ruffling feathers along the way.

McElwain’s cross between a Regency romance and a time-travel fantasy combines a mediocre mystery with an exposé of many of the inequities of the era.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 9-781-68177-766-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE NIGHT CIRCUS

Self-assured, entertaining debut novel that blends genres and crosses continents in quest of magic.

The world’s not big enough for two wizards, as Tolkien taught us—even if that world is the shiny, modern one of the late 19th century, with its streetcars and electric lights and newfangled horseless carriages. Yet, as first-time novelist Morgenstern imagines it, two wizards there are, if likely possessed of more legerdemain than true conjuring powers, and these two are jealous of their turf. It stands to reason, the laws of the universe working thus, that their children would meet and, rather than continue the feud into a new generation, would instead fall in love. Call it Romeo and Juliet for the Gilded Age, save that Morgenstern has her eye on a different Shakespearean text, The Tempest; says a fellow called Prospero to young magician Celia of the name her mother gave her, “She should have named you Miranda...I suppose she was not clever enough to think of it.” Celia is clever, however, a born magician, and eventually a big hit at the Circus of Dreams, which operates, naturally, only at night and has a slightly sinister air about it. But what would you expect of a yarn one of whose chief setting-things-into-action characters is known as “the man in the grey suit”? Morgenstern treads into Harry Potter territory, but though the chief audience for both Rowling and this tale will probably comprise of teenage girls, there are only superficial genre similarities. True, Celia’s magical powers grow, and the ordinary presto-change-o stuff gains potency—and, happily, surrealistic value. Finally, though, all the magic has deadly consequence, and it is then that the tale begins to take on the contours of a dark thriller, all told in a confident voice that is often quite poetic, as when the man in the grey suit tells us, “There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.” Generous in its vision and fun to read. Likely to be a big book—and, soon, a big movie, with all the franchise trimmings.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-53463-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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