A complex and promising start to a new fantasy series.

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APOLLO'S RAVEN

From the Apollo's Raven series , Vol. 1

A Celtic warrior princess saves her kingdom and loses her heart in Tanner’s debut fantasy novel.

Princess Catrin, the youngest daughter of King Amren, possesses the power of a Druidess. She can psychically connect to her raven and can see through its eyes, taking in the present and the future and even journeying to the spiritual realm. According to a curse levied by Amren’s former queen, Rhan, on the date of her own beheading, Catrin and her raven will bring about the downfall of Amren’s kingdom. When Romans, led by Sen. Lucius Antonius, land on Britannia’s shores, the curse is set in motion. Lucius brings troubling news of a marriage between Amren’s banished son, Marrock, and rival king Cunobelin’s daughter. Amren must travel to meet with Cunobelin and settle their political differences so as to maintain peace, ideally avoiding Rome’s interference. In the meantime, Lucius’ son, Marcellus, will stay with Amren’s family as a hostage. Catrin is assigned to Marcellus as a guide and companion, though her true role is far more complicated: she’s tasked with uncovering Rome’s true interest and cajoling Marcellus into revealing their deeper intentions for Amren’s kingdom and Britannia. However, Catrin’s growing feelings for Marcellus threaten her success. Tanner’s fantasy novel focuses on a challenging historical period from which few written records exist. Her version of Britannia is full of warring tribes, yet Rome’s influence is effectively portrayed as inescapable—a complicated situation that provides the perfect backdrop for political and romantic turmoil. The requisite fantasy elements of magic and mystery abound, found in the presence of druids, curses, dark magic, and shape-shifting. Readers will find these elements are engaging enough, but Tanner also does an admirable job weaving in the politics and mythology of a bygone people. Though Catrin, Amren, Marcellus, and other key players are fictitious, Tanner’s devotion to research is evident in her well-drawn and historically plausible cast.

A complex and promising start to a new fantasy series. 

Pub Date: April 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9982300-1-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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