This wonderfully strange and creepy tale is a thrilling, genre-defying treat.

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SOMEONE LIKE ME

After fending off a brutal attack by her ex-husband, a woman fears for her sanity. The truth is something far more terrifying.

Liz Kendall is no stranger to her ex-husband’s flying fists, but after one of Marc’s weekends with the kids, she dares to speak up about him getting them home late. She had, evidently, “lost the habit of victimhood somewhere.” All hell breaks loose, and Liz finds herself on the floor with Marc’s hands around her neck. She feels outside of herself when she reaches for a vinegar bottle on the floor, breaks it, then grinds it into Marc’s face. Liz is horrified at her actions and at the feeling she had of being controlled by someone, or something, else. “She hadn’t willed this; she had only watched it, her nervous system dragged along in the wake of decisions made (instantly, enthusiastically) elsewhere.” Sixteen-year-old Zac is protective of his mom and his 6-year-old sister, Molly, and is ready to be free of his dad and his volatile temper, and the aftermath of the attack promises that freedom. Soon after, Zac befriends Fran Watts, who was abducted at age 6 and, since her rescue, has suffered hallucinations, particularly one of a protector in the form of an anthropomorphic fox named Jinx, aka Lady Jinx, who carries a magical sword called the Oathkeeper. Determined to get to the bottom of her trauma, she seeks answers from her abductor, Bruno Picota, dubbed the Shadowman, who is incarcerated in a psychiatric institution, and is shocked at what she learns. She’s even more shocked when she senses something different about Liz, something disturbingly familiar. Liz, meanwhile, increasingly doubts her sanity, but she’s determined to make a fresh start. Unfortunately, the voice inside her head is getting stronger, and she’s very, very angry. Carey, whose boundless imagination is in fine form, explores domestic violence, its aftermath, and the transformative power of love and hate with equal aplomb. Refreshingly, Carey resists the urge to instantly transform Liz from meek mom to brave avenger, but when Liz finally finds her footing, watch out, and the savvy but vulnerable Fran is a revelation.

This wonderfully strange and creepy tale is a thrilling, genre-defying treat.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-47742-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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

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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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