Harvey appears to lose interest in his own premise, and no wonder; the secrets of the deep are far more sexy than patients...


Canadian author Harvey’s first U.S. publication is a messy disaster novel.

Bareneed is a small, pretty Newfoundland fishing town. Its inhabitants are on the cusp of a mysterious sickness. Gusts of anger will come first, then shortness of breath, and then death, unless the patient is hooked up to a respirator, fast. The first Bareneed native we meet is Miss Laracy, an old woman who used to have contact with fairies (or spirits). Don’t dismiss her as a dingbat: Spirits have power in this yarn. She greets two new arrivals, Joseph Blackwood and small daughter Robin, summer renters. Joseph, a townie, is the closest we have to a protagonist, but no paragon; this thoroughly decent dad will turn nasty as the sickness reaches him. Their neighbor is Claudia, a potter, whose husband and daughter Jessica disappeared 18 months before. Or did they? Jessica, a drowning victim, is still out and about, a malevolent playmate for Robin. Meanwhile folks have started dying, and amiable old Doc Thompson is being run ragged making house calls. And then there’s the sea! It’s disgorging bodies from different time periods reaching back to the 18th century, though none of them decomposed. Confused yet? Harvey’s lack of focus is his most obvious weakness as he moves between the Blackwoods and Claudia, the hospital, the army personnel now established dockside and a slew of minor characters; his obsession is regurgitation, as fish throw up human heads. To top it all off, a tsunami is approaching. Are the spirits causing it? That’s one of those chicken-or-egg conundrums. All we can say for sure is that, obligingly, it will spare the Blackwoods. We never do learn the cause of that strange sickness.

Harvey appears to lose interest in his own premise, and no wonder; the secrets of the deep are far more sexy than patients on respirators.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-34222-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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