A vivid and authentic tale about family secrets.


In this debut historical novel, an unexpected guest with news of her husband’s death forces a woman to finally reveal to her daughter the circumstances of her father’s leaving them to become a traveling preacher.

Established by freed slaves in the wake of the Civil War, Capernum, Maryland, is the very picture of small-town America, its folksy population dwindling as its young people seek opportunities beyond it. Few from the outside ever visit the place anymore. Such is the oddity of the man who appears on the doorstep of Miriam Crane with news of the shooting death of her long-absentee husband, Saul. With it, the unspoken peace of the Crane household is broken, and Miriam’s daughter, Ruth Benning, demands the truth about why her father left years before. The story her mother relays recalls a traveling parish drawn to Capernum’s origins and its nomadic preacher, Isaac, whose charismatic sermons inflame the passions of many townsfolk, especially Saul. When a jealous, spurned follower lashes out against the preacher and kills him, Saul feels called on to serve in Isaac’s place even if that means leaving his wife and child behind. But while her husband’s exodus causes her great pain, even more disturbing are the questions it leaves Miriam with, about whether she has led the life she has wanted or the one she was meant to and if it was her, not her husband, who should have taken up Isaac’s cause. Hall’s novel captures the timelessness of its rural setting, creating in Capernum a small community struggling against its own stagnation, where everything private is public; religion is ubiquitous in everyday life; and politeness and hospitality are the default even in times of doubt and fear. The last is particularly significant, as much is left unsaid in the book’s excellently crafted dialogue for just those reasons. Around those lies of omission, the story thrives on illustrating little moments that speak volumes, from an infant’s grip on its mother’s finger and a sidelong glance from a wife to an unnoticing husband to a daughter’s refusal to turn on a light in the presence of her sick mother. These instants are often both loving and cruel, obvious to the reader, and even more heartbreaking for going unseen by the characters.

A vivid and authentic tale about family secrets.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2016


Page Count: 174

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 10, 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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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...


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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