Beguiling and bright, van Praag’s (Happier Than She’s Ever Been, 2011, etc.) third novel delights with deft writing and...

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THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET

Each lost woman may stay for 99 nights. That’s just enough time to heal a broken heart, face a demon or redirect one’s entire life.

A despairing victim of academic shenanigans, Alba Ashby finds herself rather inexplicably in front of a gorgeous house. Alba is gifted with the ability to see the colors of emotions, bubbles of laughter and sparks of love. The proprietress, Peggy Abbot, invites her into a most magical place. For nearly 200 years, the house has stood invisible to most people, dropping its enchanted veil only for women who have lost hope. It offers sanctuary, advice (in the form of cryptic messages dropped from above), gifts (everything from birthday cakes to pianos to never-ending wardrobes) and advice from famous previous visitors—including Dorothy Parker, Daphne du Maurier and Caroline Herschel—each of who speaks from her photograph on the wall. This summer, the house’s residents include Greer, a glamorous but failed actress reeling from her fiance’s infidelity; Carmen, a sultry Portuguese singer who has buried something dangerous under the morning glories; Alba, who must face not only her ruined career, but also her horrible family when she receives word that her beloved, but mad, mother has died. At the reading of the will, Alba is given a box of love letters written between her mother and Alba’s real father. Can she find him? Will Stella, the ghost in the kitchen, help her? And why does the house, with its magical bookshelves, force her to get novels from Zoë, the pixielike librarian? Peggy herself is troubled this summer. The house has informed her that today is her last birthday. Has she squandered her life helping other women when she ought to have married Harry?

Beguiling and bright, van Praag’s (Happier Than She’s Ever Been, 2011, etc.) third novel delights with deft writing and charming characters.

Pub Date: April 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-670-78463-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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

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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This riveting Gothic thriller explores the limits of love, guilt, and punishment.

THE SHAPE OF NIGHT

Running away from the memory of a New Year’s Eve party gone terribly wrong, food writer Ava Collette escapes Boston for a remote Maine village only to face a haunted house and a murder investigation.

Bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series, Gerritsen (I Know a Secret, 2017, etc.) returns with a spellbinding thriller. The focus stays tightly on the experience of the potential victim, Ava, which enables Gerritsen to spin a tight web. Entangled in her own guilt, Ava isolates herself further and further, avoiding calls from her sister and living alone in the ominous Brodie’s Watch mansion, named for its builder, a shipping master lost to sea more than a hundred years ago. Although Brodie’s Watch initially frightens Ava, the moment she steps over the threshold, she feels inexplicably welcomed. Indeed, she is most welcome, as the shadows in her bedroom coalesce into the shape of a man, a man who may well be the ghost of Capt. Brodie. He stalks the house most nights, seducing Ava into not only the passions of love, but also atonement through punishment meted out for her sins. And so Gerritsen shifts a murder mystery into a Gothic thriller, replete with an unsteady widow’s walk, secret alcove, strange smells, ominous sensations, and the ghost. Even the prologue echoes the dream of Manderley from Du Maurier’s Rebecca. But then a dead body washes ashore, and the police investigation suggests the dead woman was killed before she hit the water. Fearful that her spectral lover may be a real-life murderer, Ava inquires about Charlotte Nielson, the young woman who rented Brodie’s Watch before her and left in an inexplicable hurry. But Ava’s investigation uncovers a disturbing list of dead women, which the townspeople seem to have spackled over. Who are they protecting?

This riveting Gothic thriller explores the limits of love, guilt, and punishment.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2095-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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