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APOLLO'S RAVEN

From the Apollo's Raven series , Vol. 1

A complex and promising start to a new fantasy series.

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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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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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