A grand entry in a consistently gripping and remarkable urban fantasy saga.

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LORD OF RAVENS

From the Inheritance series , Vol. 3

Two lovers discover new paranormal gifts and enemies in this third installment of a series.

Things seem to be looking up for Laurence Riley in San Diego, California. The god Herne the Hunter appears before him and tells him that, along with other abilities like precognition, Laurence is capable of magic. Actually learning magic will necessitate seeking out a man named Rufus Grant, whom Laurence first saw in a vision. Meanwhile, Laurence’s romantic relationship with British Earl Quentin d’Arcy has become decidedly more fervent. Unfortunately, the earl has an unwelcome encounter with his own father, the Duke of Oxford, who Quentin is convinced killed his mother. The duke demands his son return home, and Quentin, who has essentially been hiding out in the United States, suspects his father tracked him down via magic. Sadly, the duke’s presence casts a dark cloud over the lives of both lovers. Laurence subsequently has a glimpse of the past involving 5-year-old Quentin suffering his father’s abuse. The vision is so horrifying it nearly sends Laurence back to his heroin habit. Soon, Black Annis, a “blue-tinged” creature, threatens the youngsters with special abilities whom Quentin has befriended and cares for. Alarmingly, the creature vows to eat the children. In order to defeat Black Annis, Laurence will have to acquire a weapon from the Otherworld, a place outside of the mortal realm. But as he can only use the weapon for a specific purpose, Laurence must resist the temptation to slay both the blue-tinged creature and Quentin’s depraved father with it.

Faulkner (Knight of Flames, 2019, etc.) excels at creating individual stories within a cohesive urban fantasy series arc. For example, this book spotlights Quentin’s frayed connection to his father. But earlier installments had teased this with Quentin’s outburst at his mother’s funeral (which Laurence also sees in a vision in this story) and the earl’s scars, courtesy of the duke. As in the preceding novel, the couple’s relationship and shared intimacy show progress, having begun with virginal Quentin’s hesitancy. This time their scenes are unmitigated erotica, as they’re much more explicit than before. The author beefs up the pages with characters from folklore (including Black Annis) while Laurence’s trek through the Otherworld features a few recognizable faces (and objects) from Arthurian legend. Despite the story’s overall grimness, there are occasional lighter touches, like periodic appearances of the couple’s loyal dogs, Pepper and Grace. Similarly, Herne’s gift to Laurence is a raven egg. The resultant “bald little pink baby” raven, named Windsor, is like a child, as Laurence regularly feeds him and sometimes needs others to birdsit. Eventually, the raven, Laurence’s familiar, will be able to relay messages to the god. Readers anticipating the author’s knack for indelible prose won’t be disappointed: Laurence “lowered his hand to the pendant as he spoke the final word, and the universe became a vacuum….His life flashed from heart to fingertips, and he saw whorls of green flow from his fingers and into the pentagram.”

A grand entry in a consistently gripping and remarkable urban fantasy saga.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912349-13-5

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Ravensword Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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