Imaginative characters that powerfully tap into myth.



With a world in flux, a teenage girl looks for answers from quarreling deities in this YA fantasy sequel.

Book I of the Waterwight series takes place a few years after The Event, a cataclysmic natural disaster that left strange effects in its wake, such as people and animals changing forms. Celeste Araia Nolan, about 14, discovers that she can fly; with help from often dreamlike figures (like Orville, a talking, winged Francophone frog), she saves a village of children. In Book II, moments after healing a toxic ocean, Celeste finds herself transformed into a dove. Two black ravens escort her into the clouds and to the old and tired god Odin, who wants her help to investigate what’s happening below and report back. Meanwhile, stragglers—some human, some distinctly odd—join the villagers, whose transformations and special powers are fluctuating. They face a new danger, according to Noor, a giant dragonfly, thanks to a dispute between Odin and his brother Kumugwe, the sea god. Events converge underwater when Celeste visits Kumugwe after escaping from Odin. She hopes to find her real parents. So do two sisters with a complicated history (one was rescued and raised by Kumugwe) who go in search of their scientist parents and their undersea lab. A great wrong must be righted in this hunt for the truth. McHargue (Hunt for Red Meat, 2017, etc.) again effectively offers images from dreamscape and myth in this intriguing follow-up novel. Though there are some standard YA tropes—post-apocalypse; teenage girl with special powers—the author goes beyond the expected with her original, striking characters. Merts, for example, has three heads atop a two-armed body; speaks only in haiku; and moves through the trees via hair braided into a long, prehensile whip. The plot is fast-moving, with action, danger, emotion, and moral choices; beneath all of this is a subtle environmental message embodied in the two scientists’ meddling with nature. Given her complicated narratives, McHargue could have helped readers with a prefatory summary of Book I, although she does provide backstory in the exposition.

Imaginative characters that powerfully tap into myth.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9969711-2-6

Page Count: 277

Publisher: Strack Press LLC

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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

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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 steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.


From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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