A gorgeous mystery of love that twists into curses.

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THE LAST TO SEE ME

One hundred years after her death, Emma Rose Finnis still haunts Lambry House, nestled along the harsh coast of northern California. When the last of the Lambrys dies however, Emma must match wits with a ghost hunter who's come to cleanse the estate of her spirit.

Dressler (The Deadwood Beetle, 2001, etc.) conjures a bewitching seacoast village swathed in fog and rimmed by fierce, cold, crashing waves. It’s a strange parallel world in which ghost hunters have rid most towns of all ghosts, revenants unconvinced of their own deaths. Clever and careful, Emma has avoided complete obliteration from the hunters’ strange weapons, yet the arrival of the Danes, who hope to renovate the historic estate, provokes her. Able to manipulate the physical world, Emma locks them in a pantry, bewilders them into thinking they're drowning, and then kicks them roughly into the hallway. The realtor, Ellen, is astonished when, instead of fleeing the premises, Mr. Dane immediately signs a contract for the house, vowing to rid the place of its ghost. Pratt, the hunter, is a cruelly calculating man, but Emma may well prove his match. Dressler’s tale compellingly shifts and slips between Emma’s long-buried life story and her increasingly eerie cat-and-mouse game with Pratt. A century ago, riven with loss—of her mother to childbirth, of her father to a horrific shipping accident—Emma gamely accepts Mrs. Augustus Lambry’s lucrative offer to work for the new family up at the lighthouse, an offer she knows is intended to keep her awayfrom Quint, the family's eldest son. Mrs. Lambry's ploy, however, sets into motion a series of disasters. Quint, utterly besotted, follows Emma to her new post, but his parents’ opposition frustrates him. Meanwhile the lighthouse keeper has noticed Emma’s beauty. As the veil lifts on Emma’s star-crossed fate, more secrets come to light, and Pratt’s relentless pursuit coils into dangerous waters.

A gorgeous mystery of love that twists into curses.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2067-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A daring concept not so daringly developed.

THE BOOK OF LONGINGS

In Kidd’s (The Invention of Wings, 2014, etc.) feminist take on the New Testament, Jesus has a wife whose fondest longing is to write.

Ana is the daughter of Matthias, head scribe to Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. She demonstrates an exceptional aptitude for writing, and Matthias, for a time, indulges her with reed pens, papyri, and other 16 C.E. office supplies. Her mother disapproves, but her aunt, Yaltha, mentors Ana in the ways of the enlightened women of Alexandria, from whence Yaltha, suspected of murdering her brutal husband, was exiled years before. Yaltha was also forced to give up her daughter, Chaya, for adoption. As Ana reaches puberty, parental tolerance of her nonconformity wanes, outweighed by the imperative to marry her off. Her adopted brother, Judas—yes, that Judas—is soon disowned for his nonconformity—plotting against Antipas. On the very day Ana, age 14, meets her prospective betrothed, the repellent Nathanial, in the town market, she also encounters Jesus, a young tradesman, to whom she’s instantly drawn. Their connection deepens after she encounters Jesus in the cave where she is concealing her writings about oppressed women. When Nathanial dies after his betrothal to Ana but before their marriage, Ana is shunned for insufficiently mourning him—and after refusing to become Antipas’ concubine, she is about to be stoned until Jesus defuses the situation with that famous admonition. She marries Jesus and moves into his widowed mother’s humble compound in Nazareth, accompanied by Yaltha. There, poverty, not sexism, prohibits her from continuing her writing—office supplies are expensive. Kidd skirts the issue of miracles, portraying Jesus as a fully human and, for the period, accepting husband—after a stillbirth, he condones Ana’s practice of herbal birth control. A structural problem is posed when Jesus’ active ministry begins—what will Ana’s role be? Problem avoided when, notified by Judas that Antipas is seeking her arrest, she and Yaltha journey to Alexandria in search of Chaya. In addition to depriving her of the opportunity to write the first and only contemporaneous gospel, removing Ana from the main action destroys the novel’s momentum.

A daring concept not so daringly developed.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42976-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

THE NIGHTINGALE

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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