A horror tale by a gifted storyteller that, despite minor flaws, delivers a wickedly good ending.

A DEMON'S ULTIMATUM

A Texas woman considers accepting a demon’s proposal of marriage in order to save her family in Bastaros’ (Life Near the Sea, 2011) supernatural thriller.

Stacy Buchanan doesn’t know what to make of her disturbing dreams, in which she’s in a dark tunnel, unable to reach a crying baby. Her husband, Todd, attributes them to her natural concern for their 3-year-old daughter, Angel, but Stacy instead thinks that their house may be haunted. This belief is magnified when she starts seeing images of a menacing, demonic figure in windows and mirrors. The demon turns out to be Ayda, chief demon “from underground,” and she has an agenda: Her son, Anoushek, is so attracted to Stacy that he wishes to marry her. Stacy realizes that she doesn’t have much of a choice, particularly when Anoushek threatens to destroy her family if she rejects him. She has 10 days to decide whether to become a demon wife or to watch her husband and child die. This short novel’s mingling of demons and a married woman has shades of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby (1967), but Bastaros adds fresh elements to the mix. For example, Stacy sees Ayda as unquestionably horrific in appearance, but she finds the pale-skinned Anoushek, a demon/human hybrid, rather handsome. Her impossible decision gives the story a component of drama, as well as suspense, although the author disappointingly skips over much of the 10-day countdown. The story is further enhanced by its general sense of uneasiness, courtesy of a creepy neighbor, Mrs. Heffernan, who freely admits to seeing ghosts. Later, Stacy experiences her dream in real life; this time, it includes another mother, whose veil can’t quite hide her “bulging red eyes.” The book does have some structural and grammatical issues: Ashour, Anoushek’s father, makes an early, sudden appearance but isn’t properly introduced until later; and Ayda, at several points, confusingly appears to be male. There are also other errors, such as when the story introduces Stacy’s mother, Lauren Silverman, as “Lauren Sullivan.” Overall, however, the author’s enthusiasm shines through, leaving readers with lasting images, such as two demons sitting on a sofa, waiting to interrupt Stacy’s psychiatrist appointment.

A horror tale by a gifted storyteller that, despite minor flaws, delivers a wickedly good ending.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2014

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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