Typical recent Anita Blake fare—exciting, erotic paranormal romantic adventure—that gets the job done for its intended...

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KISS THE DEAD

The status quo of paranormal society is destabilized, and Anita Blake must vanquish the enemies while managing her complicated love life and overcoming her own growing internal demons.

When a teenage girl is abducted by vampires, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Anita Blake to save her. But she and her team find something disconcerting in the rescue—a group of recently turned vampires who are either very young or very old, who are violently against any sort of master and who are willing to die for their cause. Everyone knows that a martyr is a problematic enemy, but martyr vampires are even worse, since they can cause a significant amount of damage when they have little left to lose. As Anita Blake tracks down angry, violent adversaries with her own preternatural abilities, she must also fight long-lived insecurities as a cop, vampire hunter and human, while dealing with the relationship stresses in her household that are due to her myriad lovers and their complicated emotional and supernatural bonds. Fans will find much of the same from Hamilton in this, the 21st installment of the popular Anita Blake series, the erotic paranormal books that put vampires on the map before Twilight had them going viral. But while there’s not much new, there’s also plenty of action, excitement, hot sex and emotional turmoil that will keep most fans of the series satisfied until the next book. A dizzying cast of characters may keep newbies at bay, but Hamilton does a good job explaining relationships and past and present frictions without it being too burdensome on the current story. Nonetheless, it’s likely that this book will be more enjoyable to the legions of existing fans than for new ones, who will probably want to start a little earlier. People who’ve been turned off by Blake’s growing stable of sexual partners and increasing preternatural powers will want to avoid it, but then, they’ve probably already done so a few books back.

Typical recent Anita Blake fare—exciting, erotic paranormal romantic adventure—that gets the job done for its intended audience.

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-425-24754-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

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THE WATER DANCER

The celebrated author of Between the World and Me (2015) and We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) merges magic, adventure, and antebellum intrigue in his first novel.

In pre–Civil War Virginia, people who are white, whatever their degree of refinement, are considered “the Quality” while those who are black, whatever their degree of dignity, are regarded as “the Tasked.” Whether such euphemisms for slavery actually existed in the 19th century, they are evocatively deployed in this account of the Underground Railroad and one of its conductors: Hiram Walker, one of the Tasked who’s barely out of his teens when he’s recruited to help guide escapees from bondage in the South to freedom in the North. “Conduction” has more than one meaning for Hiram. It's also the name for a mysterious force that transports certain gifted individuals from one place to another by way of a blue light that lifts and carries them along or across bodies of water. Hiram knows he has this gift after it saves him from drowning in a carriage mishap that kills his master’s oafish son (who’s Hiram’s biological brother). Whatever the source of this power, it galvanizes Hiram to leave behind not only his chains, but also the two Tasked people he loves most: Thena, a truculent older woman who practically raised him as a surrogate mother, and Sophia, a vivacious young friend from childhood whose attempt to accompany Hiram on his escape is thwarted practically at the start when they’re caught and jailed by slave catchers. Hiram directly confronts the most pernicious abuses of slavery before he is once again conducted away from danger and into sanctuary with the Underground, whose members convey him to the freer, if funkier environs of Philadelphia, where he continues to test his power and prepare to return to Virginia to emancipate the women he left behind—and to confront the mysteries of his past. Coates’ imaginative spin on the Underground Railroad’s history is as audacious as Colson Whitehead’s, if less intensely realized. Coates’ narrative flourishes and magic-powered protagonist are reminiscent of his work on Marvel’s Black Panther superhero comic book, but even his most melodramatic effects are deepened by historical facts and contemporary urgency.

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-59059-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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