With all the trappings of straightforward horror, this tale kicks down genre doors to become a glowing adventure.

FAWN

This middle-grade debut stars a girl whose new home borders on woods full of remarkable, dreadful secrets.

Eleven-year-old Freya Ward and her parents have just moved to acreage in the country. She already misses her friends Amanda and Chelsea, who will have to visit on weekends. When the Wards reach their new residence, “a steal for the price,” Freya dashes into the woods behind the old house. After battling through some tough undergrowth, she finds a clearing. She then hears a “hauntingly eerie, yet beautiful” sound. Near a rocky basin of water, she sees something that at first appears to be another mossy boulder. This is Fawn, who looks like a giant lemur who’s hatched from the woods itself. Fawn has entrancing eyes, rows of sharp teeth, and a lovely voice. Freya befriends the strange creature, but when she tries to leave, Fawn threatens to eat her—and the girl barely escapes. Two weeks later, the family has settled in a bit. Freya wonders if she imagined the encounter. She and her father decide to build a treehouse in the woods. It’s then that she meets a ghostly boy with sunken eyes who says, “Look behind the door in the basement.” In this chilling novel, Dougherty tests young horror fans with a Brothers Grimm–style descent into a magical realm called the hollow. Her prose conveys the primordial wonder of the forest, as in the line “Shafts of sunlight that made it through the trees illuminated specks of dust that were floating in the air.” Psychological aspects of the story are just as detailed, as when Freya tries to explain Fawn to Amanda and Chelsea, but “they really did not understand the scope of what was happening...and she envied them a great deal for that.” The author unspools deeper weirdness with the hollow, a labyrinthine inner wood where beings like Twitch, Meathead, and the enigmatic Root await discovery. A satisfying ending should have fans begging to learn what happens next.

With all the trappings of straightforward horror, this tale kicks down genre doors to become a glowing adventure.

Pub Date: April 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5255-2111-9

Page Count: 204

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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