A gloomy, character-driven story with a potency that’s not easy to match.

Running Through the Wormhole

A woman questions her sanity when she begins interacting with ghosts in Abbott’s debut thriller.

One night, 44-year-old wife and mother Phoebe Rivers is out for a late run when two strangers accost and rape her. She manages to stab one of her assailants before a third man, Petrel, rescues her. She later learns that Petrel may be the ghost of a man who died approximately 70 years ago. She’s reluctant to tell the cops or her husband, David, about the rape, for fear that they’ll think her insane; besides, she thinks she may have killed one of the rapists. She goes on to see more dead people, such as Sorel, a runaway slave from the Civil War era—but that fact is far less disturbing than what Phoebe learns about David. It turns out that he has another life, including a girlfriend named Annette. The adulterous couple may be up to something unspeakably sinister—something that may put Phoebe and her children in danger. Abbott pulls no punches in her somber tale, and she draws readers into some very bleak territory. A number of scary scenes may make readers cringe, as they involve young children. The violence, however, is never left unchecked; instead, Abbott merely highlights details of grisly sequences and lets readers’ imaginations carry the rest. Whether Phoebe is truly witnessing spirits or dreaming them is initially ambiguous, but the story makes it abundantly clear what’s happening before it’s over. In any case, the ghosts aren’t as riveting as the living characters. Annette, for instance, proves the vilest and most reprehensible character of all; the chapters focusing on her perspective reveal a back story that readers may find impossible to forget. The narrative’s timeline, however, is a little hard to follow, and the ages of Phoebe’s children are inconsistent. The kids’ long-suffering mother, though, is indefatigable. Indeed, Phoebe faces every tribulation head-on—an admirable trait in a protagonist.

A gloomy, character-driven story with a potency that’s not easy to match.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1612964881

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2015

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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