Though the scale of the book disorients the reader at times, the payoff comes in a decidedly creative mix of sci-fi and...

READ REVIEW

KINGDOM OF APATHY

THE TRIAL OF TIME

A part sci-fi, part fantasy debut novel examines the convergence of magical worlds.

At the outset of this vast tale, an unnamed man finds himself in an odd land of “endless, flat, hard earth.” He is puzzled about his circumstances, though he possesses recollections of being a warrior, remembering “weapons and armor and battle.” It is only with the aid of a stranger that the man discovers he is actually Prince Anthony Duskborn of Nighthaven. Soon after, the reader learns that Nighthaven is under attack. Although the once-proud city has loyal defenders, they are no match for a horde of fiends led by a “being of immense power.” As the royal family is overrun, the narrative shifts to Vincent L’Artane, “lawyer for the Gracette Intergalactic Order.” After a subordinate of his wife, Antonella (who is also an attorney), brings to light information about the creation of a few planets with immense amounts of magic, the couple know an investigation is in order. Gracette is a republic encompassing thousands of intelligent species across the universe and the formation of planets is highly regulated. Why would some be created with a focus on magic, an altogether “rare and random phenomenon”? If this all sounds disparate and complex, that’s merely the beginning. From the Duskborn family lineage to magic licenses for “Eaglic citizens” to a dedicated, if lonely, soldier named Col. James Vanderford, simply understanding the myriad characters and the worlds they inhabit requires patience. There are, after all, many of them. While certain aspects of the tale, such as details of the home life of Vincent and Antonella (as when they decide to make pancakes with their daughter: “What kind of pancakes are we talking about? Bananas on top, or blueberries inside?”), add little to the story, most of the information coalesces in a slow, genre-blending buildup. Finding out how two lawyers and a vast collection of otherworldly creations will ultimately affect one another gives the reader the motivation to navigate more than 700 pages. Neri painstakingly sets the stage for a conclusion that brings it all together.   

Though the scale of the book disorients the reader at times, the payoff comes in a decidedly creative mix of sci-fi and magic. 

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5370-7107-7

Page Count: 792

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more