A compelling addition to an impressive fantasy series with a strong heroine.

The Ruling Mask

From the The Grey City series , Vol. 3

McGarry and Ravipinto (The Fall of Ventaris, 2013, etc.) return to the turbulent city of Rodaas in this third installment of a series.

In gang- and guild-dominated Rodaas, affiliation means everything. Wearing the cloak of the Grey Highway—a society of thieves with influence in all corners of the fantastic city—is perhaps the most desirable association of them all. So thinks Darley, the privileged aristocrat’s daughter, who approaches Grey member Duchess in an attempt to gain an invitation to the order. Darley knows of Duchess’ past—that she, too, was the daughter of an aristocrat, though she has turned her back on that life—and hopes to use their former acquaintance to bend Duchess to her will. Duchess has her own plans, though. Darley’s connections to the city’s scholars may be of benefit to Duchess’ work as well as provide some insight into the recurring dreams from which she has been suffering. But why, wonders Duchess, does a particular scholar, Cecilia Payne—the only female one in the city—want to meet with her? And what is the origin of these rumors swirling through the streets that Duchess is a murderer for hire? Tensions are building in Rodaas: the city’s cults are on the verge of an all-out war, and the empress’ control of the throne is not assured. In a place where so much is based on hearsay and anecdote, Duchess must be very careful what she says—and what she allows to be said about her. “Each is a story,” her mentor warns her while discussing whispered rumors that affected two powerful men. “Each has a tale behind it. Sometimes we know them, and sometimes we only wish we did.” In Rodaas, McGarry and Ravipinto have created a world of profound complexity and intrigue (At one point, Duchess recalls: “Someone once told me of a theory that Rodaas passes through periods of long stagnation punctuated by spasms of change, sometimes violent change”). Readers unfamiliar with the earlier works in the Grey City series will likely feel over their heads, as the nuances of the various castes and factions are deep and difficult to suss out. Those willing to commit themselves to the installments, however, will find their investment paying dividends. This third volume of Duchess’ story is the most knotty, absorbing, and satisfying yet.

A compelling addition to an impressive fantasy series with a strong heroine.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9850149-2-6

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Peccable Productions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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