Lovers of fairy tales and Victorian England aren’t the only readers who will be charmed by this story of self-discovery.

THE TORN WING

Book Two in the Faerie Ring series picks up where the previous book ended and continues the tale.

Newcomers to the series will have no trouble catching up with the goings-on of Tiki, Rieker and their gang of ex-pickpockets in Hamilton’s latest (The Faerie Ring, 2011). The issue of the queen’s stolen ring has been mostly resolved; now it’s time for the protagonist to understand who she is and the meaning of the birthmark on her wrist. The biggest obstacle to Tiki’s self-discovery is also her best source for information: the inexplicable Larkin, a faery whose agenda is completely and often frustratingly hidden. Larkin pops in and out of the human world at will, refusing to disclose information that would enrich Tiki’s journey. There’s also the possibility that Tiki holds the key to end the tension building between the two faery factions: the Seelies and the UnSeelies. The plot revolves around her quest to find out if Larkin’s being truthful about Tiki’s heritage. This is a fun read, all but impossible to put down, and Tiki’s burgeoning relationship with Rieker is sweet and just right. Other high points include Tiki’s bravery when facing the UnSeelie king, her interactions with the royal family and her struggles with the changes in her life. She’s a lucky woman, and in the end, we find out why: As always when dealing with the fae, all is not what it seems at first glance, and that includes Tiki, herself. While not enough attention is given to the political machinations between the Seelies and the UnSeelies, nor to the fae/human relationship, Tiki, Rieker and their crew can easily sustain readers’ interest. More skillful and consistent copy editing would tip the scales heavily in Hamilton’s favor.

Lovers of fairy tales and Victorian England aren’t the only readers who will be charmed by this story of self-discovery.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470131432

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Gaslamp Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2012

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

THE SWALLOWED MAN

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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