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VERITY FIRE

Takes the reader on a gripping journey filled with unexpected twists and turns; a fun, smart read.

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Rathod and Kerr’s novel is a fantastical coming-of-age story about a 16-year-old named Howard.

When Howard learns that he has magical abilities—and Rathod and Kerr portray his exploration of his newfound power in very real terms—his life changes. Growing up in an orphanage, the Boy’s Home, Howard knows little of his family background and lineage. The day he discovers his supernatural talents, he accidentally performs a healing spell on an injured child at the Home.  The discoveries only get more complex and unique when Howard meets the beautiful and exotic Elisa at the mall. After an encounter in the parking lot with a group of men dressed in black, driving black SUVs and shooting bullets that mysteriously disappear, Howard and Elisa are thrown together in an effort to save their lives. Once it’s been established that the two hail from the same magical realm, they set off on a quest that begins with questions (“Well, what do we do now?”), evolves into confessions (“You want to know the truth?  Here it is. I’m a Venefican and I’ve been a magic user my whole life.”) and is finally ignited when the two (along with Elisa’s boyfriend, Jack) begin their search for the Verity Fire. However, the Verity Fire, which Elisa understands will help them prove their worth and save them from becoming prey or victim to the men who tried to chase them down in the mall parking lot, is not easily accessible. First, they don’t know where the fire is located. Second, it is a highly protected source of information. And finally, Howard and Elisa are busy avoiding the men from the mall.  It turns out that those men are the Ferreters who, Elisa tells Howard, are determined to destroy the Venefican community because of century-old conflicts that go from the Ancient Egyptians to World War II. Rathod and Kerr have created a believable and compelling character with Howard, our narrator, and Elisa. Howard is sympathetic, authentic and filled with a confusion and awe for this new surreal dimension. The truth about the Ferreters and the Verity Fire is, it turns out, far more complicated than Howard or Elisa could have expected—and this is at the heart of both the story’s journey and its end. The novel uses the discovery of inner power as a tidy metaphor for growing up, while telling an intricately plotted sci-fi tale.

Takes the reader on a gripping journey filled with unexpected twists and turns; a fun, smart read.

Pub Date: April 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-1461001133

Page Count: 320

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2012

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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FOURTH WING

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

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