A marathon of fantasy gore and slow-building characterizations in a land confronting demons.

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ODIN'S AWAKENING

ANGEL-MAGIC EDITION

From the Sons of Odin series , Vol. 1

In this fantasy debut, four individuals visit a war-torn realm full of monsters and magic, seeking to fulfill an ancient prophecy.

One night, actor Adem Highlander suffers quite the nightmare. In it, he faces a tunnel of flames, and a raven-haired beauty tells him that he is a Son of Odin. Adem connects the experience with another he had years ago at a place called Bright, where he and his friends Carl Wilder and William “Wil” Martyr became Witnesses to the reality of ghosts (Adem learned that “ghosts were not imagined, not a mythology. Not some false religious fantasy cooked up to inspire hope or fear in the hearts of mankind”). Later, Adem and his agent, Anna, attend the symphony. There, he has a waking vision of a wizard who asks, “What will be the hour of your arrival, Son of Odin?” The next day, Adem, Carl, and Wil meet model Jean Fairsythe at a photo shoot. Then, the foursome is transported to Kismeria, a kingdom at war with the Dark One and his demonic hordes. Orion, King of the Torvellan, informs them that in 1,000 years they are destined to face the Dark One. Until then, they must train and work against the taint—instilled by the ghosts Witnessed at Bright—that threatens to interfere with their use of the Power. In the opening volume of a complex new fantasy series, Hammer offers readers lavish battles, dizzying amounts of gore, and a system of magical patrons called Battle Angels that fans of the Final Fantasy video games should enjoy. Hammer’s prose is often dense with imagery, as when “Anna, the crew,” and “the bushland were all swallowed by a vortex of light and shadows,” and “the light exploded into tiny filaments of burning gold and white energies.” The battles, during which the Sons of Odin—and Jean, the Daughter of Thor—summon superpowered guardians, are splatterfests (demons are blasted “into dust and smoke, torn flesh and large spurts of dark blood”). Quiet moments involve Adem’s courting of Jean, who believes that love “writes itself upon our every fibre.” Christianity also plays a role, as Carl attempts to convert Kismerian warriors and chides Adem against taking innocent lives. Overall, the action is busier than the plot is satisfying.

A marathon of fantasy gore and slow-building characterizations in a land confronting demons.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Smashwords

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2017

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

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THE VANISHING HALF

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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