An engrossing and creative story of the wonders of the unknown with an Icelandic accent.


An anthropologist and his sidekick investigate a mysterious video that may show a unicorn in this novel that blends an Icelandic adventure with magical realism.

Mark Sandoval’s alien abduction memoir was made into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Brad Pitt, and he plans to study otherworldly beings further on a site visit to Iceland. Without revealing all of his aims, the self-described “renowned cultural anthropologist” and “famed cryptozoologist” enlists as his research assistant Brian Schutt, a headache-prone academic with a doctoral dissertation that's stuck in creative limbo back in Portland, Oregon. Schutt is mystified by the geometric scarring that covers his boss’s body—a “cosmic roadmap” or perhaps “warning or prophecy,” Sandoval’s memoir had suggested. Once both men trek to the Icelandic town of Hvíldarland, they bond over their shared fascination with mythical entities, cryptic creatures, and historical lore. Sandoval soon reveals the expedition’s true purpose: to investigate a grainy video sent to Sandoval of what looks like a unicorn on a pumpkin farm. Though Schutt is more skeptical, the trip provides a timely escape from his messy family melodrama and a dire health diagnosis. As they dig deeper into the area’s mystical folklore and haunted forest, all of it becomes a terrific thrill for Schutt, a man “still doggy-paddling through his academic career,” and Sandoval, hoping to lay claim to discovering the elusive creature with droppings that consist of “a gleaming coruscation of granulated glitter.” As in his Smoke City (2017), Rosson offers crisp characterization and surprising twists. Here he maps a magical journey through the wilds of rural Iceland and into a kaleidoscopic terrain filled with secretly active military bases and muddied body parts that sully what began as an innocent expedition into the supernatural. While the conclusion is disappointingly hokey and doesn’t quite measure up to the narrative mysticism and preternatural wonder preceding it, Rosson’s clever, swiftly paced story has more than enough to keep readers turning the pages and wanting to believe.

An engrossing and creative story of the wonders of the unknown with an Icelandic accent.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-946154-29-3

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Meerkat Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.


When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A curious fetishization of outsiders, outlaws, and the down-and-out.


This debut novel from Walking Dead actor Reedus follows three thematically connected yet narratively unrelated people as they journey to find themselves.

Hunter, a heavily tatted Iraq War vet and self-proclaimed gearhead, attacks his boss at the bike shop after catching him kicking a dog. “Hunter was old school,” the narrator says, rough-hewn but with strong moral fiber and a heart of gold. After learning his father died in a “mysterious house fire” in California, Hunter hops on his Buell S1 motorcycle alongside his buddies Nugget and Itch for a cross-country haul to execute the will. Meanwhile, a wealthy 65-year-old executive named Jack is mugged while traveling aimlessly through South America, neither the first nor the last of his hardships. Jack abandoned his cushy, bloodless office lifestyle after his dying mother told him to “run and never look back,” words he continuously labors to unpack. Finally, Anne, an abused teenage girl in Tennessee, steals her father’s savings and .38 revolver and runs away from home, clobbering her brother upside the head with a cast-iron skillet when he tries to stop her. She connects with her friend Trot, and they join a community of train-hoppers. Co-written by Bill, the story reads like a pastiche of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the latter of which is name-dropped as “great” by multiple characters. Though occasionally hitting some beautiful imagery of the American heartland, Reedus falls victim to implausible dialogue—“Fabiola, you are reading me like a stock report,” Jack says—and overcooked language: “flesh the color of a high-dollar medium-roast coffee bean.” Frequently wordy summaries do little to develop the thinly sketched characters; we know nearly as much about them on Page 25 as on Page 250.

A curious fetishization of outsiders, outlaws, and the down-and-out.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-09-416680-3

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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