A dark and compelling tale of violence and dementia in colonial Massachusetts, with an unforgettable young girl at the heart...

THE ROOT OF SCARCITY

A NOVEL

A historical novel of psychological suspense explores 17th-century New England.

Freemartin’s (The Cult of Scorpio, 2015, etc.) work opens in 1680 in Greenwood Village, a small Massachusetts Bay Colony town near enough to Boston to buy city fineries but far enough away to seem most often like an alien world. Judith Temple, the town’s midwife and apothecary, is an unconventional, free-spirited woman who has taken in as her apprentice a 10-year-old Native American orphan she names Vigory. They form one of the book’s narrative focal points. Judith and Vigory are outsiders to the strict and sometimes borderline-hysterical religious conservatism of the town, a Cotton Mather-style righteousness that’s spearheaded by Harriet Browne, the wife of the village’s constable. Freemartin portrays the relationship between Judith and Vigory with subtle compassion as a blend of teacher-student and mother-daughter (“Vigory attacked all Judith taught her with vigor; she did everything with a serious and vigorous sincerity, from eating to working, to those rare moments of play that children in the colony can find between harvest and planting season”). This stands in stark contrast to the twisted combination of hatred and abuse that Harriet feels for her grossly overweight daughter, Miriam. When Harriet declares that Greenwood should undergo a fast to recover God’s grace and her own daughter rebels, the tension festers into a cloud of psychological gloom that should be familiar to any student of the Salem witch trials. In this complex and insightful tale, Miriam remains the strangest and most striking character (“You could get lost following the expansive curves of her body, every line always radiating away from the core, the center of her being”). Her behavior becomes increasingly peculiar, and the town is visited with torrents of rain, an infestation of frogs, and other woes that lend themselves readily to supernatural explanations. Freemartin propels this plot forward with a sure hand and a sharp, knowing ear for revealing dialogue. Her powers of imagery are strong throughout (about Boston: its streets were “laid out like poorly set bones”). And the novel’s climax, which might seem overwrought in less skillful hands, is instead hold-your-breath gripping.

A dark and compelling tale of violence and dementia in colonial Massachusetts, with an unforgettable young girl at the heart of it all.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2017

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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