Though presented as a mystery, this vivid tale employs mysticism, Catholicism, and murder to tell the story of a shining...

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And Maybe Not

Haunted by dreams of a possible past life, a recovering alcoholic attempts to find her best friend’s killer in this debut novel.

Cassandra “Cass” DiSpirito and Gabriella “Kit” Labastiani have always been fun-loving North Shore girls, raised just outside of Boston and usually found at their favorite coastal bar, The Outrigger—which they, not always so affectionately, call “The Frig.” Cass’ life tragically ends there, as she is discovered beaten and strangled on The Frig’s roof, and Kit, using her skills as a journalist, vows to find her killer. Kit spends her days investigating her friend’s untimely demise, while her nights are filled with strange dreams of Germany in the 1600s, about a charitable country healer named Anke and her persecution by the church as a witch. Counter to Kit’s Roman Catholic upbringing and urged on by her grief, she comes to believe these dreams are the manifestations of past lives, the figures in them earlier incarnations of friends and family, their modern actions—and Cass’ murder—a karmic continuation of events long ago. Through them, Kit sobers up and comes to some level of acceptance and understanding about Cass’ death, even when faced with her killer. Campbell’s book builds on the culture of one of America’s oldest cities, the characters so wonderfully Bostonian that anyone with even a passing knowledge of the metropolis should find them instantly recognizable. The portrayal of Kit’s family, half-Italian, half-Irish, plays with the idiosyncrasies of both heritages with a decidedly un–PC and self-effacing sense of humor. Much of the book explores Kit and Cass’ friendship, beginning in the 1950s and ’60s, traveling with them throughout their years of terrorizing nuns in parochial school to eventually graduating to barhopping and burning gas from Boston to Ipswich. The girls come to life on the page, Kit slightly more well-behaved and intuitive, Cass more capricious and fashion-conscious, each smile-inducing detail of their love further driving home the tragedy of Cass’ death. Kit’s dreams, whether a former life or just a means to cope with her loss, further expand upon the novel’s themes of how vibrant and powerful women are viewed, the unjust and violent retribution they often draw, as well as the shortcomings of the church.

Though presented as a mystery, this vivid tale employs mysticism, Catholicism, and murder to tell the story of a shining friendship.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7414-9949-3

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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