A compelling but flawed tale of prison betrayals.

TANGLEWIRE

A WOMEN'S PRISON NOVEL

A New England women’s prison is changed forever when a misguided warden comes into power in this debut novel.

Prisoner Iris Engels is a criminal defense attorney and pro bono counsel to her fellow inmates at the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution for Women in Connecticut when a new warden, Camellia Coleman, comes into power. As part of an effort to please the warden and protect her own personal interests—specifically, obtaining citizenship for her immigrant roommate, Emilia Rivera—Iris hatches a plan to convince inmate Desiree Johansson, a small-town Iowa girl, to become an informant. Later, when Ottilla Cassidy, Desiree’s childhood friend, is admitted into the prison, Iris believes that the new girl’s history could be valuable to her. The novel also explores subgroups of the prison social structure, such as the vivacious Colombian community, and it portrays a rich prison economy in which seemingly everything, including sanitary pads and Wet ‘n Wild lipsticks, has multiple purposes. The makeup of the prison environment is similar to that in the Netflix TV series Orange Is the New Black, and it’s unclear whether it’s intentionally mirroring aspects of that show. The narrative truly comes into its own, though, when it focuses primarily on the interpersonal dynamics between the characters in prison; at one point, when the warden asks why a group of prisoners is so cheerful at lunchtime, Iris responds, “a lot of these ladies are violence-free for the first time in their lives.” Many plot developments are keenly observed and the momentum ramps up on the first page and doesn’t let up until the last. That said, Iris’ motivation to sabotage prisoners’ lives for her own benefit seems foggy, at best; even when her reasons are revealed, it doesn’t seem to justify her actions. Also, the problematic portrayal of Ottilla’s character does little to combat insidious transgender stereotypes, as it’s revealed that she was only transitioning in order to join an all-male gang and that she regretted doing so after a religious epiphany.

A compelling but flawed tale of prison betrayals. 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2017

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

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DEVOLUTION

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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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