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THE SIGHTLESS CITY

A gripping mystery with an exceptionally fleshed-out world.

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A detective haunted by his past and an engineer desperate to ensure her future become embroiled in a conspiracy in Lemelson’s debut urban fantasy novel.

In the wake of the Calamity, which left an irradiated crater in the middle of the continent, the wasteland border city of Huile has become a bustling hub for the production of “æther-oil,” a miraculous fuel source that also allows certain gifted people to bend physics to their will—a power nicknamed “the Knack.” The people of Huile fought a bitter revolution for their independence from imperial occupiers, and private detective Marcel Talwar, one disillusioned veteran who lost a leg during the conflict, is haunted by traumatic memories. He often investigates for Lazacorp, the city’s distributor of æther-oil. However, after the deaths of one of his former comrades and of a Lazacorp worker, Marcel looks into what’s going on with Lazacorp’s new water filtration plant, overseen by beloved industrialist and war hero Lazarus Roache. Meanwhile, in the engineering mecca of Icaria, a young engineer named Sylvaine becomes acquainted with Roache when he offers to become her patron. As a feral—a furred animal-person—she often faces discrimination, so she’s eager to accept Roache’s offer of “Slickdust,” a substance that awakens her Knack after years of failure. She and Marcel cross paths when they realize they’re both pawns in a struggle between strange and ancient forces. From the very start of the novel, Lemelson’s unique take on a postwar industrial fantasy world features memorable imagery (“You ever take a walk outside this city?” says Marcel at one point. “See the cracked land, the ruins, the oozing trees, the Demiurge-damned Wastes?”) and deftly realized worldbuilding. In its account of its dual protagonists’ struggles, the narrative unfolds at a controlled pace, swelling with tension at each new revelation while delivering intriguing information in an organic way. The result, expressed in Lemelson’s vibrant, witty, and often heartbreaking prose, is a page-turner that’s perfect for urban fantasy fans.

A gripping mystery with an exceptionally fleshed-out world.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-94-650140-0

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Tiny Fox Press LLC

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2021

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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LONG ISLAND

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

An acclaimed novelist revisits the central characters of his best-known work.

At the end of Brooklyn (2009), Eilis Lacey departed Ireland for the second and final time—headed back to New York and the Italian American husband she had secretly married after first traveling there for work. In her hometown of Enniscorthy, she left behind Jim Farrell, a young man she’d fallen in love with during her visit, and the inevitable gossip about her conduct. Tóibín’s 11th novel introduces readers to Eilis 20 years later, in 1976, still married to Tony Fiorello and living in the titular suburbia with their two teenage children. But Eilis’ seemingly placid existence is disturbed when a stranger confronts her, accusing Tony of having an affair with his wife—now pregnant—and threatening to leave the baby on their doorstep. “She’d known men like this in Ireland,” Tóibín writes. “Should one of them discover that their wife had been unfaithful and was pregnant as a result, they would not have the baby in the house.” This shock sends Eilis back to Enniscorthy for a visit—or perhaps a longer stay. (Eilis’ motives are as inscrutable as ever, even to herself.) She finds the never-married Jim managing his late father’s pub; unbeknownst to Eilis (and the town), he’s become involved with her widowed friend Nancy, who struggles to maintain the family chip shop. Eilis herself appears different to her old friends: “Something had happened to her in America,” Nancy concludes. Although the novel begins with a soap-operatic confrontation—and ends with a dramatic denouement, as Eilis’ fate is determined in a plot twist worthy of Edith Wharton—the author is a master of quiet, restrained prose, calmly observing the mores and mindsets of provincial Ireland, not much changed from the 1950s.

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781476785110

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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