A wildly dramatic and distinctly anti-Islamic presentation of a battle for the soul of the world.

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HANDS OF THE SON

CHRIST VICTORIOUS

A fantasy novel in which Christian and Islamic forces square off as the end of everything approaches.

Debut author Doren presents the world of 2093 as trembling on the edge of the End of Days, as supernatural forces align to fight their final battles. On one side is the archangel Uriel—one of the Seven, a group of angels who chose exile from Heaven on Earth. They did so in order to defend mortals during the upcoming time of Tribulation, when Satan will have free reign on Earth for seven years; then, Jesus will appear to win the battle of Armageddon, casting Satan into outer darkness for 1,000 years. The Seven have pledged “to Fall in order to fight against the Dark and help protect the people of Earth,” and against Satan’s incredible power, Uriel and his teammates use mystic talismans, such as the Ring of King Solomon. Meanwhile, in the mortal world, a powerful Muslim Brotherhood organization called the Swords of Allah has conquered many countries around the world and imposed Sharia law on them; only eight countries still resist them, “but within these nations, even in America, freedom held only a slight edge.” The Swords of Allah are led by a man called the Mahdi, “the long-awaited savior of the Islamic people”; unless he’s stopped, he’ll spend the seven years of the Tribulation fulfilling “his ultimate goal of destroying the Jews and Christians, and converting the world’s entire population to Islam.” Doren makes effective dramatic use of his admixture of Christian and Muslim folklore and eschatology, adding some Islamic elements to the superstructure of Apocalypse-oriented fiction. He also includes some action-adventure stock characters, such as Staff Sgt. John Bennet, which further flesh out the cast. Overall, he has a good sense of dramatic pacing, smoothly telling his story from shifting third-person points of view and in multiple locations as it builds to a climax. Some of his interpretations of Christian folklore, however, may strike some Christians as puzzling; for example, the author’s choice to render some of the supernatural scenes in a comic-book style (Hades’ “eyes bulged in terror when Jesus grabbed him firmly by the throat and slammed him to the ground”) may strike some readers as a bit odd. Far more problematic, however, is the story’s contention that it was Lucifer, not Gabriel, who tutored Muhammad. The third-person narration makes other distasteful insinuations, such as that “The Muslim Brotherhood gained its most significant foothold in the U.S during…the Barack Hussein Obama administration. Then-President Obama made it clear, after bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia, that he would throw his full support behind the Islamic world.” Some readers of the Left Behind series and other End Times–related fiction may take issue with these kinds of direct political statements.

A wildly dramatic and distinctly anti-Islamic presentation of a battle for the soul of the world.

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-950877-09-6

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Mystic Otter Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2020

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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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