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THE BRIGHT SWORD

A NOVEL OF KING ARTHUR

Astoundingly, a fresh take on an extremely well-trodden legend.

King Arthur is dead—what happens now?

Collum of the Out Isles has stolen armor and a horse from his local lord, hoping to be accepted as a knight of the Round Table. But when he arrives at Camelot, the place is nearly deserted; King Arthur and a majority of his knights have died in the battle at Camlann, leaving no clear heir. With the few remaining knights and the sorceress Nimue, Collum travels across the disintegrating nation and even into the fairy Otherworld, searching for a successor to the dead Arthur and marshaling forces against the rivals who seek Britain’s throne for themselves—including Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s enchantress half-sister, who claims that she is the rightful heir, but mostly acts as a chaos agent throughout, helping or harming the questers as seems best to her in the moment. As the book progresses, we learn the secret backstory of each of the surviving knights as well as the nature of the relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere, the apparent spark for the civil conflict (the truth, intriguingly, is not what you think). The story of King Arthur has been told and substantially altered many times over the centuries, and explored by a multitude of contemporary novelists, but the author of the Magicians trilogy makes room for himself here. The purposeful inclusion of anachronisms recalls T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, and the conflict between Christianity and pagan traditions is strongly reminiscent of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. However, very few writers have explored post-Arthurian Britain or focused quite so much on developing the stories of the minor characters in the saga—the transgender man Sir Dinadan; Arthur’s bodyguard, Sir Bedivere, secretly in love with his liege; Sir Dagonet the Fool, suffering from severe bipolar disorder; Sir Palomides, a highly educated prince of Baghdad whose not-so-secret passion for the lady Isolde keeps him in a primitive land that looks down on him for the color of his skin; and so on. This is not a realistic conjecture of how Britain would continue after the death of a charismatic leader who tried to institute new policies of standard law and justice. It’s a metafiction in which the survivors of a myth attempt to extend that myth as they contend with the inner demons of their pasts.

Astoundingly, a fresh take on an extremely well-trodden legend.

Pub Date: July 16, 2024

ISBN: 9780735224049

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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THE GOD OF THE WOODS

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Many years after her older brother, Bear, went missing, Barbara Van Laar vanishes from the same sleepaway camp he did, leading to dark, bitter truths about her wealthy family.

One morning in 1975 at Camp Emerson—an Adirondacks summer camp owned by her family—it's discovered that 13-year-old Barbara isn't in her bed. A problem case whose unhappily married parents disdain her goth appearance and "stormy" temperament, Barbara is secretly known by one bunkmate to have slipped out every night after bedtime. But no one has a clue where's she permanently disappeared to, firing speculation that she was taken by a local serial killer known as Slitter. As Jacob Sluiter, he was convicted of 11 murders in the 1960s and recently broke out of prison. He's the one, people say, who should have been prosecuted for Bear's abduction, not a gardener who was framed. Leave it to the young and unproven assistant investigator, Judy Luptack, to press forward in uncovering the truth, unswayed by her bullying father and male colleagues who question whether women are "cut out for this work." An unsavory group portrait of the Van Laars emerges in which the children's father cruelly abuses their submissive mother, who is so traumatized by the loss of Bear—and the possible role she played in it—that she has no love left for her daughter. Picking up on the themes of families in search of themselves she explored in Long Bright River (2020), Moore draws sympathy to characters who have been subjected to spousal, parental, psychological, and physical abuse. As rich in background detail and secondary mysteries as it is, this ever-expansive, intricate, emotionally engaging novel never seems overplotted. Every piece falls skillfully into place and every character, major and minor, leaves an imprint.

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593418918

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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SANDWICH

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

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During an annual beach vacation, a mother confronts her past and learns to move forward.

Her family’s annual trip to Cape Cod is always the highlight of Rocky’s year—even more so now that her children are grown and she cherishes what little time she gets with them. Rocky is deep in the throes of menopause, picking fights with her loving husband and occasionally throwing off her clothes during a hot flash, much to the chagrin of her family. She’s also dealing with her parents, who are crammed into the same small summer house (with one toilet that only occasionally spews sewage everywhere) and who are aging at an alarmingly rapid rate. Rocky’s life is full of change, from her body to her identity—she frequently flashes back to the vacations of years past, when her children were tiny. Although she’s grateful for the family she has, she mourns what she’s lost. Newman (author of the equally wonderful We All Want Impossible Things, 2022) imbues Rocky’s internal struggles with importance and gravity, all while showcasing her very funny observations about life and parenting. She examines motherhood with a raw honesty that few others manage—she remembers the hard parts, the depths of despair, panic, and anxiety that can happen with young children, and she also recounts the joy in a way that never feels saccharine. She has a gift for exploring the real, messy contradictions in human emotions. As Rocky puts it, “This may be the only reason we were put on this earth. To say to each other, I know how you feel.”

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9780063345164

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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