A solid YA fantasy with moments of brilliance.

READ REVIEW

The Seven Year King

Hamilton (The Torn Wing, 2012, etc.) revisits the fantasy world of Faerie in the third book of her young-adult series.

Tiki, a 16-year-old former pickpocket, must accept her newly discovered destiny as the Seelie queen and become the leader of a world she doesn’t understand—and, quite frankly, doesn’t really want to rule. Her heart is back in London with her cobbled-together family of former street orphans, but now the entire future of Faerie is resting on her shoulders. When she discovers that a dear friend, Dain, has been kidnapped by the Unseelie king to be tortured and sacrificed, she and her lover, Rieker, must brave the secrets and dangers of Faerie to save him. At the same time, she tries to manage her duties as queen and spar with Larkin, a faerie with a suspicious agenda. Tiki and Rieker go deep into the nefarious politics of the Otherworld, but their creativity and bravery save the day. Despite Tiki’s courage in her quest to find her missing friend, her constant need for Rieker’s reassurance makes her appear somewhat weak and insecure. The novel’s suspense and action keep things moving, but its extensive reliance on back story sacrifices some of its intensity while providing very little character development. Tiki becomes more invested in her role as queen by the end of the story, but readers may find her evolution is too linear and one-dimensional. However, Hamilton’s layered, complex worldbuilding creates a marvelous landscape of both London and the Otherworld. The fantasy world’s lore is intriguing and well-conveyed, making it easy for readers to navigate as the story progresses. Hamilton’s prose also contains moments of pure, poetic beauty that ensnare the reader with their magic: “It’s like time is fractured….As if one foot is in the past, when this building was alive and full of people—and one foot in the future, left with only the memory of what has been.”

A solid YA fantasy with moments of brilliance.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481247450

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gaslamp Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2013

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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