In contrast to the first installment, there is very little entertaining interaction between the immortal Beauchamps and...

SERPENT'S KISS

From the Witches of East End series , Vol. 2

Second in de la Cruz’s increasingly convoluted mélange of witchcraft and Norse mythology, set in fictional North Hampton, Long Island.

When we last saw Joanna Beauchamp and her witchly brood, the sacred bridge, Bofrir, had been destroyed, and the sun god, Fryr, aka Joanna’s son Freddie, was blamed, because his signature trident (now missing) was found at the scene. Although it was clear then that the trickster god, Loki, was the real culprit (isn’t he always?), the Valkyries consigned Freddie to Limbo, from which he has recently escaped. He’s now holed up in North Hampton’s no-tell motel (dubbed the Ucky Star for its missing neon letter). His twin sister, Freya, love goddess and mixologist extraordinaire at the local watering hole, is bringing Freddie food and trying to clear his name. Her boyfriend, Killian (the god Balder who is Loki’s nemesis from way back), bears a trident-shaped mark—could he have framed Freddie? Joanna's oldest, Ingrid, aka hearth-deity Erda, has her own challenges: Her nascent romance with aptly named policeman Matt Noble is about to founder on her intractable virginity. Not only that, thieving pixies have invaded North Hampton, and Ingrid is hiding them in her mother's attic until she can discern how to cure their amnesia and return them to their home in another dimension. In a forest near the Beauchamp house, Joanna happens upon a burial mound and some runes. Could this be the final resting spot of a kindred spirit, hanged during the colonial witch hunts, and if so, why hasn’t she been reborn, like Freya and Ingrid, who died in Salem? Only a trip back in time can solve these enigmas.

In contrast to the first installment, there is very little entertaining interaction between the immortal Beauchamps and their human neighbors, and the Norse arcana is about as exciting as a romp through Tolkien’s Silmarillion. Readers can, nevertheless, look forward to Book III, which promises to place the Beauchamps back in the 17th century where all their troubles began.

Pub Date: June 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2396-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

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THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES

Things are about to get bloody for a group of Charleston housewives.

In 1988, the scariest thing in former nurse Patricia Campbell’s life is showing up to book club, since she hasn’t read the book. It’s hard to get any reading done between raising two kids, Blue and Korey, picking up after her husband, Carter, a psychiatrist, and taking care of her live-in mother-in-law, Miss Mary, who seems to have dementia. It doesn’t help that the books chosen by the Literary Guild of Mt. Pleasant are just plain boring. But when fellow book-club member Kitty gives Patricia a gloriously trashy true-crime novel, Patricia is instantly hooked, and soon she’s attending a very different kind of book club with Kitty and her friends Grace, Slick, and Maryellen. She has a full plate at home, but Patricia values her new friendships and still longs for a bit of excitement. When James Harris moves in down the street, the women are intrigued. Who is this handsome night owl, and why does Miss Mary insist that she knows him? A series of horrific events stretches Patricia’s nerves and her Southern civility to the breaking point. (A skin-crawling scene involving a horde of rats is a standout.) She just knows James is up to no good, but getting anyone to believe her is a Sisyphean feat. After all, she’s just a housewife. Hendrix juxtaposes the hypnotic mundanity of suburbia (which has a few dark underpinnings of its own) against an insidious evil that has taken root in Patricia’s insular neighborhood. It’s gratifying to see her grow from someone who apologizes for apologizing to a fiercely brave woman determined to do the right thing—hopefully with the help of her friends. Hendrix (We Sold Our Souls, 2018, etc.) cleverly sprinkles in nods to well-established vampire lore, and the fact that he’s a master at conjuring heady 1990s nostalgia is just the icing on what is his best book yet.

Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68369-143-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

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THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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