A bewitching thriller with surprises detonating in nearly every chapter.

THE WINTER SISTER

Strangled on a snowy night, 18-year-old Persephone O’Leary remains a mystery. Her younger sister, Sylvie, is finally ready to find some answers.

Convinced she caused Persephone's death, Sylvie has never forgiven herself for locking their bedroom window that cold night 16 years ago. But she had grown tired of covering for her sister’s lies—she shouldn't have been sneaking out with Ben Emory since their mother, Annie, had forbidden Persephone to date. And Sylvie had grown tired of covering her sister's bruises—every night Persephone returned with Ben's fingerprints blossoming through the skin of her wrists, her ribs, her hips. Sylvie painted over the bruises, transforming them into beautiful temporary tattoos. That fateful night, though, after Persephone could not climb back in, she ran back into the night, into the clutches of her killer. In luminous lines aching with loss, debut novelist Collins deftly re-envisions this Greek myth of Persephone. Annie may have named Persephone after the myth, noting that her absent father didn't deserve her, yet after her death, it is Persephone’s sister who solves the puzzle in this tale, releasing her back to the truth. Sinking into alcoholism and a strange certainty that Persephone's death was inevitable, Annie never recovered from the tragedy. Pushed away, emotionally rejected, Sylvie made do with her Aunt Jill  as a substitute mother, biding her time until she could escape Spring Hill. But now Annie is sick and Aunt Jill can no longer care for her, so Sylvie must come home to drive Annie to her chemotherapy appointments, to keep her sober, and to find out what really happened to Persephone. The secrets she uncovers, though, will shatter every memory she holds dear about her sister, her mother, and even the man she believes killed Persephone.

A bewitching thriller with surprises detonating in nearly every chapter.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-0014-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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