SEVENLIVES AND THE WOOF PACK

A warm adventure story featuring man’s best friends and a very special cat.

Sevenlives the cat and her canine friends roam the English countryside playing games and keeping a check on the ill-tempered dogs of Stealers Farm and their human owners. But Sevenlives isn’t an ordinary cat—she’s a werecat; when she’s in trouble, frightened or angry, Sevenlives becomes Sevenia, a half-feline, half-human female creature taller than most men, with a powerful tail and the ability to heal when injured. Sevenlives keeps her mystical identity hidden from her dog cohorts, Sweetness, Sadness, Laughter and Dependable, whose names “perfectly reflect their personalities.” A puppy, Mischief, joins the pack around the same time dogs from the area begin mysteriously disappearing, and when Mischief goes missing, Sevenlives and company suspect the residents of Stealers Farm—Gumless and Molar and their dogs Brutal and Angry—and it’s a race to save Mischief and others from a violent fate. Morrison’s book is peppered with enough theatrical language and magical intrigue to keep young readers interested, but the core of the book is an uplifting story of supportive friendship between very different characters. The book champions courage and teamwork and vilifies fighting, avarice and theft in accessible, touching ways. The story unfolds in just a couple of days, and, because the timeframe of the book is manageable, the dangers and triumphs the characters experience seem all the more real. Though human characters are flat, background fillers, and many of the magical elements of the story are left unexplained (Sevenlives and her otherworldly secret may be slightly confusing), Sevenlives and the dogs—even their names should be fun discussion points for the right age group—are drawn in an open, playful style, and they display enough of the familiar behaviors of the domesticated pets we invite into our homes and hearts to easily endear them to readers. Good thwarts evil in a simple, relatable way in Morrison’s morality tale that entertains while avoiding saccharine moralizing.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-1456785956

Page Count: 88

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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

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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A perilous, magic-school adventure that falls short of its potential.

A DEADLY EDUCATION

From the The Scholomance series , Vol. 1

A loosely connected group of young magicians fight horrendous creatures to ensure their own survival.

Galadriel "El" Higgins knows how dangerous the Scholomance is. Her father died during the school's infamous graduation ceremony, in which senior students run through a gauntlet of magic-eating monsters, just to make sure her pregnant mother made it out alive. Now a student herself at the nebulous, ever shifting magic school, which is populated with fearsome creatures, she has made not making friends into an art form. Not that anyone would want to be her friend, anyway. The only time she ever met her father's family, they tried to kill her, claiming she posed an existential threat to every other wizard. And, as a spell-caster with a natural affinity for using other people's life forces to power destructive magic, maybe she does. No one gave Orion Lake that memo, however, so he's spent the better part of the school year trying to save El from every monster that comes along, much to her chagrin. With graduation fast approaching, El hatches a plan to pretend to be Orion's girlfriend in order to secure some allies for the deadly fight that lies ahead, but she can't stop being mean to the people she needs the most. El's bad attitude and her incessant info-dumping make Novik's protagonist hard to like, and the lack of chemistry between the two main characters leaves the central romantic pairing feeling forced. Although the conclusion makes space for a promising sequel, getting there requires readers to give El more grace than they may be willing to part with.

A perilous, magic-school adventure that falls short of its potential.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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