A moody, hard-edged coming-of-age story that keeps the horrors coming until the very end.

LIES IN BONE

A teenage girl moves to her dad’s Pennsylvania hometown and confronts tragedies old and new in Symons’ debut novel.

Frances “Frank” Coolidge is almost 16 and still scarred by the fact that her mother left the family years earlier. Her single dad, Chuck, tells her and her little sister, Boots, that they’re all moving from Troy, New York, to live with their grandmother in the old steel town of Slippery Elm, Pennsylvania. Grandma Ruth has cancer and Chuck is afraid she might fall and hurt herself if left on her own. Frank also has an unshakeable sense of dread: “I sensed doom like a dog senses an impending earthquake.” Ruth is a cantankerous woman, Frank is bullied by kids at her new school, and Chuck staggers home drunk every night. But there’s something more serious hanging over everyone’s heads: It turns out that over 20 years before, Chuck’s brother, Danny, was killed when a poisonous cloud of smog hung over the town for four days, suffocating town residents, and there are rumors that Chuck was somehow involved with his sibling’s death. Sadly, other Slippery Elm locals come from troubled homes, and a little girl named Bernie starts regularly visiting the Coolidges. As Frank continues to worry, more secrets from the town’s past are revealed. Over the course of this novel, Symons shows that she’s unafraid to confront some of the gritty realities of old industrial towns in America. Her story starkly highlights Slippery Elm’s frightening characters, its rampant economic despair, and its tragic history, and it contrasts these sharply with the sweet kids at the heart of the narrative. Although it reads like a literary novel, the compelling plot features elements of a detective story, and the investigation is exciting to read. It’s skillfully written throughout, and the novel’s overall sense of sadness isn’t mitigated by its numerous strengths.

A moody, hard-edged coming-of-age story that keeps the horrors coming until the very end.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63337-509-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: Boyle & Dalton

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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