A daring, if occasionally dreary, series installment that shows that love can be an unremitting trial—with or without...


Highway Thirteen to Manhattan

From the The Six Train to Wisconsin Series series , Vol. 2

A telepath has a near-death experience and later struggles with an inner darkness in Heintz’s (The Six Train to Wisconsin, 2013) paranormal drama.

Kai Guhn had a hand in saving a little boy after a disturbed person kidnapped them both. Her injuries put her in the hospital, but her husband, Oliver, and brother, Caleb, ensure her release when it’s clear that the meds are jamming her “psychic shield.” As a result, she’s in mental anguish, overloaded with other people’s thoughts. She already feels betrayed by Oliver: the abduction was, in part, a revenge against him, and the fact that he shared a kiss with his ex-girlfriend Mickey has done nothing to mend their own strained marriage. But she has a few secrets of her own: she once used her telepathy to hurt bullies who’d tormented her high school friend. Now she feels a “darkness” after having been trapped inside her kidnapper’s head. To break this apparent connection, Kai leaves her town of Butternut, Wisconsin, for New York City. As Oliver searches for evidence against a cop who murdered his childhood pal, Kai faces a new threat in Manhattan: an apparent frame-up against Caleb for illicit activities. This novel, like the preceding installment, is a tortured love story with shades of the supernatural. The characters’ superabilities are understated and well-incorporated in the melodrama; at one point, for example, Kai’s father loses control of his own telekinesis, possibly instigated by the darkness in his daughter’s head. Kai does tend to wallow in her misery, though, and although she’s angry that Oliver sought comfort from Mickey, she later does the same thing with Mickey’s brother, Alex. Still, her distrust of Oliver is, sadly, well-founded, and Kai is generally pragmatic throughout. The latter half of the novel is decidedly more engrossing as Kai and Oliver see what it’s like to be without each other, and her predicament in New York reveals her personal and paranormal strength.

A daring, if occasionally dreary, series installment that shows that love can be an unremitting trial—with or without superpowers.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016


Page Count: 351

Publisher: Aurea Blue Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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