A hearty introduction to a world of magic and its equally enchanting inhabitants.

Blood and Ash

An MIT student with untapped power may play an essential role in a centurieslong war between otherworldly coalitions in this debut supernatural fantasy novel.

Ashley “Ash” Drake escapes his rather uneventful life at MIT with video games. So when a voice in his head and image on his computer screen tell him he possesses unrealized potential, Ash sees the chance for an amazing opportunity. A mysterious package arrives, and equipment inside (for example, virtual reality goggles) starts him on his training—to harness magic. Later, the man from Ash’s screen, whom the student dubs the Wizard, shows up with a history lesson: some children are born of evil (the Touched) and others are good (the Blessed). Both sides have been warring for as long as anyone can remember and searching for the foretold Blessed One, a powerful boy who will drive back an impending darkness. The Wizard, unsure if Ash is the Blessed One, helps the MIT senior, who uses a gemstone eventually affixed to a wand, develop his abilities. Ash then heads to Las Vegas to find “Smiling Jack” Porter, who can use his gift of premonition to locate Sinthia Greyson, an apparent target of the Touched. Touched fiend Nihalus may be looking for Sinthia. He wants to get his clawed hands on a crucial relic, the Sangrian Map. Despite exploiting familiar traits of sorcerers (wands and cloaks), Perez ultimately reveals much more of the Blessed and Touched. A significant back story, including a lengthy but riveting section on young Jack learning he can see the future, never slows the narrative down. Most details aren’t clear until near the end, such as the importance of both Ash and Sinthia, but the mystery’s intriguing enough to retain momentum until the rousing final act. It’s a shame that Touched recruit Sarah Blake, who ominously whispers to potential victims, “I might not be good for you,” is not in the book more. This, however, is clearly the beginning of something bigger, so there’s fortunately the prospect of seeing Sarah again. Humor’s minimal but memorable, particularly Ash’s determination to further his training, which is offset by the Wizard’s insistence that he first put on his pants.

A hearty introduction to a world of magic and its equally enchanting inhabitants.  

Pub Date: April 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9975072-0-1

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2016

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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