A consistently engaging work with a well-developed main character.


A woman takes on powerful mining interests while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana in Fischer’s debut novel.

Twenty-nine-year-old civil engineer Louisa Lehmann challenges the profit-driven company West Africa Gold to redress the harmful consequences of its gold-mining operation. Her predecessor, Lynn Lubic, formed an organization known as “the Advocacy” after her research showed that WAG’s new dam was contaminating local water supplies with cyanide, arsenic trioxide, and other heavy metals. Lehmann is up against mine manager Finn Harrigan, a quintessential corporate villain with a callous attitude, a room-length desk, and a smoking habit. The strength of Fischer’s novel rests on Lehmann—a delightful, complicated character—and the keen attention that the character gives to even the most subtle observations. For example, when describing vegetation, she narrates, “In every pore swells the dank taste of afterbirth.” Here’s her take on a piece of furniture: “There is eroticism in a table. A clean, hard surface ready and waiting to support creation.” To calm herself, Lehmann often cycles through colors, textures, and patterns, but she’s most interesting in the interrogative mode, as when she wonders, “How long does it take to walk past someone who is walking toward you?” She constantly reevaluates her internal life in an honest way and digs into her familial strife, her high-achieving childhood in Bakersfield, California, and her difficult relationship to establishment feminism, wondering at one point: “With what license could the feminists discount the lives of the men with whom I worked?” Later, as she works for and alongside local Ghanaians, she experiences ecstatic encounters with the divine. When Harrigan attempts to frame her and her organization for a crime, she at last stands up to WAG in memorable style. Lehmann never quite moves past the possessive attitude that she has toward Ghana at the story’s outset (“It is ugly and it is mine”), but she otherwise mines her psyche so deeply that readers can almost forget this lack of growth.

A consistently engaging work with a well-developed main character.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9802170-7-0

Page Count: 472

Publisher: Kilometer Thirteen

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.


A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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