High fantasy marked by restraint, subtlety, and deep character maneuvering.

MONSTRUM

From the Fourth Talisman series , Vol. 3

This third installment of a series sees the fire-wielding Vatra clan one step closer to escaping its desert prison.

One thousand years ago, three elemental daeva clans—the Danai, the Valkirin, and the Marakai—imprisoned a fourth group, the Vatras, in a desert called the Kiln. Now, a fire-wielding Vatra named Nicodemus has escaped. He seeks beings known as talismans, who can break the storms that enclose the Kiln. Enter half-daeva Nazafareen; her lover, Darius; and the band of heroes aboard the ship Chione. They sail the Austral Ocean with Capt. Mafuone in search of Sakhet-ra-katme, one of the original talismans who sealed the Vatras. Hopefully, the long-lived Sakhet can point Nazafareen toward the child she hid years ago, 12-year-old Mebetimmunedjem. On the ship Asperta, Meb “the Mouse” is a Marakai who can’t manipulate water like the rest of the seafaring daevas. She’s a member of the crew, under Capt. Kasaika, with no idea of the forces converging on her. Meanwhile, in Persian Samarqand, Javid has become a successful delivery pilot for the merchant Izad Asabana. One of their best customers is Prince Shahak, who’s addicted to the magical rush of spell dust. And at Val Moraine, Victor Dessarian punishes his son Galen with the task of tunneling through the ice wall surrounding a holdfast. In this latest volume in The Fourth Talisman fantasy series, Ross (Solis, 2018, etc.) keeps all of her narrative plates spinning at top speed. While dialogue drives her plots, lyrical filigree exalts the whole, as in the line “One by one, the stars winked out, as if devoured by some slouching celestial beast.” And though a vast war threatens her alternate ancient Persia, the author once more proves the master of small character moments, as when Nazafareen feels that “something shifted in her heart” after seeing an Aurora in the night sky “bleeding pure light.” Cast members from Solis return in frightening ways, including Apollonian acolyte Thena, whose mind goes blank as she murders someone. By the end, Ross has primed audiences for an epic conclusion.

High fantasy marked by restraint, subtlety, and deep character maneuvering.

Pub Date: June 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9990481-6-0

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Acorn

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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