A compelling study of power, sociopathy, and the possibilities of survival.

FIERCE LITTLE THING

When Saskia joined Home, a secluded Maine commune, she thought she had finally found a family. But cults never quite turn out as one might hope.

It all began when Saskia’s 4-year-old little brother died. With her father in jail, her mother absconded, and her grandmother unwilling to care for her, Saskia’s family disintegrates. Sent to live with family friends just after she turns 12, she initially thrives. Phillip, her new father figure, is an eccentric painter, and although his wife, Jane, is rarely around, Saskia soon bonds with their son, Xavier, who's her age. Then Jane decides not to come home, and Phillip takes them to Home, where the enigmatic leader, Abraham, holds court, urging everyone to “Unthing” themselves and give up all worldly attachments. There in the woods of Maine, Saskia finds new friends among the other kids. But she is also surrounded by adults trying to navigate marital and financial difficulties. In the background, the siege on Waco has Abraham on edge, and bad choices eventually erupt in a catastrophic event. Sixteen years later, Saskia and her friends from Home are living separate lives: Xavier and his husband are trying to adopt a child, Ben and Cornelia have built their own families, Issy is a single mom. Only Saskia lives alone and isolated in her late grandmother's Connecticut house. Mysterious letters have arrived in all their mailboxes, luring them back to Home, threatening to reveal a terrible secret. As the tightly structured chapters toggle between Saskia’s past and present, Beverly-Whittemore deftly ratchets up the tension by slowly, almost imperceptibly revealing the psychological troubles haunting not only Saskia, but also Abraham. Avoiding the expected storyline of “cult leader sexually abuses young girl,” Beverly-Whittemore crafts something else entirely as the sins of the past come home to roost.

A compelling study of power, sociopathy, and the possibilities of survival.

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77942-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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