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

THE JOURNALS OF BOB DRIFTER

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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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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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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