Lush, evocative descriptions carry readers through an unforgettable journey.



From the The Silver Web series , Vol. 2

A practitioner of magic struggles with her forbidden love for a king as she and her friends/students are threatened by impending war in the second of Gastreich’s (Eolyn, 2016, etc.) fantasy series.

Eolyn, the sole High Maga left in the kingdom of Moisehén, has a small coven with only five girls under her wing. They reside in the meek province of Moehn to hone their magic, an art once prohibited for females. Eolyn has long been in love with King Akmael, but years earlier she turned down his offer of marriage believing that a woman cannot be both Queen and High Maga. Akmael, in the interim, wed Taesara, the princess of Roenfyn, as part of a political maneuver to ensure an alliance between the two kingdoms. Meanwhile, dying San’iloman (leader) of the Syrnte, Joturi-Nur, names his granddaughter Rishona as his successor. Easily defending her claim by killing one of the princes who challenges her, Rishona makes plans to invade Moisehén, where she would have been princess if not for her parents’ murders long ago. She summons Naether Demons from the Underworld, and ensuing attacks put everyone in danger, including Eolyn’s students and friend/music teacher, Adiana. Battling demons may take a back seat for Eolyn when someone abducts members of her coven. Gastreich’s unhurried but engaging tale is heavily populated with characters and social themes, including feminism and bigotry: Roenfyn citizens are known for their disdain for “witches.” Characters are undeniably versatile; Rishona, though unquestionably the villain, is still worthy of admiration—at age 6, she demanded that her uncle teach her to wield a sword. But the story’s greatest triumph is Gastreich’s prose, a consistent blend of lyrical verse and dark imagery: “Trees creaked and groaned as if death were being drawn up in excruciating threads through their roots.” The inevitable clash, while striking, is over too soon, and a couple of significant deaths hardly leave a mark. There is, however, ample material left for the series’ subsequent volume.

Lush, evocative descriptions carry readers through an unforgettable journey.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9972320-1-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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