A well-paced series starter that mixes fantasy, romance, and mystery with enjoyably grim overtones.

AETHEREAL

From the Alchemy Conspiracy series , Vol. 1

In this YA fantasy, science and magic clash when a girl with a hidden agenda attends a royal wedding.

Seventeen-year-old Lady Emrys Bruma has come to the court of Queen Tabora in Wyst, a realm where science rules and magic is scorned. She’s ostensibly there to make her official debut and to represent her ill father at the royal wedding of Prince Ryland and his bride-to-be from the magic-oriented land of Etruria—a union designed to keep the peace between the two previously warring kingdoms. Emrys’ real motive is to search for a long-lost object. Wyst’s king had exiled her late great-uncle for supposedly trying to create an all-powerful philosopher’s stone fueled by pure Aether—a blend of the elements of air, fire, water, and earth. The stone, which was dubbed a fake at the time, disappeared. Emrys’ father, who refers to the exile as the Disgrace, is convinced that the stone was real and is hidden somewhere in the palace, and he’s tasked his daughter with finding it. Reed (Dreamscape, 2017) has conceived a detailed plot that grows darker as the book progresses. Along the way, Emrys makes unexpected friendships and finds herself attracted to handsome Prince Ryland’s edgy pal Ajay. Readers know Emrys’ mission and her own personal secret from the start, but Reed craftily slips in numerous surprises for readers and for Emrys herself. By the end, there are some ominous revelations involving hidden identities and unexpected betrayals. The unexpected reappearance of a dangerous figure from Emrys’ early childhood is clearly meant to carry over to the next book in the series, which promises future travels beyond the borders of Wyst, which may involve the “near-mythical” Faerfolk.

A well-paced series starter that mixes fantasy, romance, and mystery with enjoyably grim overtones.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-941637-67-8

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Ellysian Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2020

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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