A highly charged fantasy tale about God-chosen warriors fighting evil forces intent on destruction.

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Sir Coffin Graves (Book 2)

"I DON'T THINK YOU WANT TO SE MY REAL WRATH." -- DYMORTIS

A young man imbued with superpowers must fight to save the world from the man he once thought was his father.

The latest from Platz (Sir Coffin Graves Book 1, 2015) picks up right where the previous book left off: young Collin Graves, formerly a furniture store worker and part-time gravedigger, has had his world shattered by a series of revelations and tragedies. His lifelong nanny, Sylvanna, abruptly leaves him; Henry Davis, the man he once thought was his father, is revealed as Lord Harod Dunraven, the powerful lieutenant of a being named Dymortis, who’s bent on world domination; Jill, a young woman Collin cared for, mysteriously dies; Collin’s friend Patrick is abducted and tortured by Dunraven’s henchmen, the Regulators; and Collin himself is approached by a group calling itself the Challengers that tells him he’s actually the last surviving leader of an ancient bloodline of supernatural beings named Soulmadds, who are intent on thwarting the plans of Dunraven and Dymortis. Under the tutelage of the various remaining Soulmadds (including Sylvanna), Collin starts to master the supernatural powers that he’s begun to manifest, and he learns more about the mission of the Challengers and their allied groups, such as the grass-roots movement of the Fosai. All of them are dedicated to serving God and defeating the designs of the “Adversary,” furthering the well-crafted Christian allegory of the series. As in the previous novel, Platz here presents a thoroughly constructed and often quite exciting fantasy scenario full of high-stakes plot twists, vivid characters, and some well-timed comic relief amid all the end-of-the-world drama. Most of the Challengers feel like types rather than individuals, but Collin himself fascinates more with every chapter, constantly confronted with new information about both himself and the world, frequently forced to adapt his beliefs while trying to maintain some level of sanity. Platz continues to do a first-rate job of crafting a gripping fantasy series that can appeal equally to religious and nonreligious lovers of the genre.

A highly charged fantasy tale about God-chosen warriors fighting evil forces intent on destruction.

Pub Date: April 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63505-035-6

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Mill City Press

Review Posted Online: July 21, 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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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

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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