Bent on tracking down the elven Norumbegans in order to save Vermont from an invasion of dream-sucking Thusser, Brian,...

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THE EMPIRE OF GUT AND BONE

From the Norumbegan Quartet series , Vol. 3

The third of what is now billed as the Norumbegan Quartet, this sequel to Game of Sunken Places (2004) and Suburb Beyond the Stars (2010) gives new meaning to the term “introspective.”

Bent on tracking down the elven Norumbegans in order to save Vermont from an invasion of dream-sucking Thusser, Brian, Gregory and the mechanical troll Kalgrash pass through an interdimensional curtain—to find themselves inside an organic alien body. It is so vast that entire cities of both Norumbegans and their now-rebellious mechanical servants have sprung up despite sudden destructive floods of ichor and other bodily fluids. Arriving at the capital city in, literally, the heart of the “Empire of the Innards,” the trio discovers that the elves are an effete, degenerate lot dwelling in a slum, wrapped up in their own intrigues and about to be assaulted by the teeming hordes of resentful mechanicals they created. Along with tucking in plenty of poker-faced absurdity, Anderson really stacks the deck here. Not only are the boys able to raise no more than flickers of interest in their cause from their self-absorbed hosts, they become embroiled in a murder investigation. Worse yet, as the relentless Thusser spread back on Earth, they also begin appearing in the Empire.

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-13884-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise.

WHERE SHE FELL

A teenager battles social anxiety disorder and giant bugs in a subterranean world.

When two bad friends to whom she’s been clinging trick her into venturing into the ominously named Drowners Swamp, Eliza falls into a sinkhole that leads into a seemingly endless cave system. Being an avid fan of caves and geology, Eliza is as enthralled as she is terrified—a mix of emotions that remains unaltered as she encounters a small community of likewise trapped people surviving on a diet of outsized spiders and cave insects. Weeks later she is captured (briefly, thanks to a conveniently timed spider attack) by bioluminescent humanoids. All the while, despite having been in therapy for years, she continually denigrates herself for panic attacks and freezing up around others. Her emotional reactions take up so much of the narrative, in fact, that for all its lurid, occasionally gruesome turns, it’s hard to tell whether character or action drives the story more. In the event, Eliza is surprised to find reserves of inner strength—and a chance at personal transformation—through her ordeal. The first-person narration is punctuated with excerpts and sketches from Eliza’s journal. Except for one character with brown skin, the nonglowing cast defaults to white. Warring themes and elements give this outing a distinct feel of multiple stories yoked together by violence.

Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise. (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-23007-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A well-knit debut generously stocked with chills, thrills, and chancy exploits.

MONSTROUS DEVICES

A young British teenager’s ordinary world takes a sudden spin to the dark side with the arrival of an antique toy robot that turns out to conceal a terrible, and terrifying, power.

Hardly has Alex unpacked the robot sent by his grandfather than he cuts himself on a sharp edge so that a little blood seeps into its workings. Cue the weirdness, starting with a homework assignment he doesn’t remember finishing and a bully who inexplicably beats a sudden retreat. It quickly escalates into a headlong flight with his grandad and a running fight with a squad of varied but uniformly scary automatons fueled themselves by blood. What’s up? Alex’s robot, it turns out, was crafted to hide a tablet inscribed with the secret name of God that Rabbi Loew used to animate his legendary golem…and nefarious parties are out to revive the clay monster for—well, nothing good. Confused, terror-stricken, and inarticulate throughout, Alex comes off as a pale character next to his creepy adversaries and, in particular, his dapper, glib, secretive, martially adroit, scene-stealing grandfather. Still, as events move along apace, he proves surprisingly resourceful. Love tucks in plenty of icky bits, along with cinematic set pieces and hairbreadth escapes, and he strews enough tantalizing hints about his protagonist’s murky past to excite interest in sequels. The human cast presents white.

A well-knit debut generously stocked with chills, thrills, and chancy exploits. (Horror/suspense/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47858-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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