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THE JOURNALS OF BOB DRIFTER

An often engaging supernatural thriller with an immortal protagonist with meritorious human traits.

In Weech’s debut supernatural thriller, an empathetic soul collector must stop one of his own from reaping dark souls and committing murder.

Bob Drifter is a typical Arizona substitute teacher—except for the fact that he’s a 338-year-old Journeyman. When a person is near death, Bob can transport his or her soul to the afterlife. He keeps a low profile, but it turns out that police Sgt. Richard Hertly is on the verge of connecting him to a few recent deaths, as witnesses in each case describe a stranger nearby. Richard and his partner, Detective Kyle LeShea, soon link Bob to a hospital death from his fingerprint, and Richard becomes determined to prove that Bob’s a murderer; he even follows Bob when he takes a new job in New York state. Meanwhile, Bob and his fellow Journeymen search for Grimm, a rogue collector who waits for souls to “sour” and become “Blacksouls.” Journeymen don’t have the ability to kill humans, but Grimm, with his Blacksoul-derived power, is dead set on finding a way. The novel is split into three parts that feel like separate short stories, though Bob and the antagonistic Grimm are always at their centers. The first is the most riveting, despite the fact that it has the least amount of action. It introduces Bob as a compassionate man who’s clearly only transporting souls out of necessity; other characters, and the narrative itself, describe the pain he feels when he watches people die. He also tutors a student named David, befriending the boy and his family for reasons that readers will likely surmise. Despite the book’s title, and its narrative device of recurring journal entries, the remaining two parts offer relatively little insight into Bob, instead concentrating on the Journeymen’s frequent, violent encounters with Grimm. That said, the novel does treat readers to laudable characters, such as Bob’s mentor and friend, Drisc. He’s a member of the Council, which tries to establish rules for Journeymen, and holds meetings in a bowling alley. Bob also has a chance at love with a photographer named Patience, and because she’s a mere mortal, the melodramatic possibilities abound. Bob eventually shows a few additional abilities, too; for example, he can “Manipulate” emotions or ease others’ pain. The ending leaves the door open for future sequels.

An often engaging supernatural thriller with an immortal protagonist with meritorious human traits.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1480815940

Page Count: 472

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2015

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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