Sci-fi and fantasy merge to form an entertaining romp in space.



A military spacecraft captain tries to keep her crew safe while battling pirates, creatures, and an alien race that Holy Scriptures declared eradicated in this sci-fi adventure.

Capt. Shirakaya is ecstatic, having found a protostar that can replenish her sorcery with magical ions. Unfortunately, aliens launch a sudden assault that Shirakaya and the people aboard Celestial narrowly survive. Following the attack, the sorceress starts to feel her magic dwindling. What’s worse is that the aliens appeared to be koth’vurians, a race long ago vanquished, according to religious text. The Ruzurai, rulers of the Tal’manac Order, refuse to believe that Shirakaya witnessed the koth’vurians and send her on another mission. The captain and her crew, including oracle (and Shirakaya’s lover) Jedalia, search for a tourist cruise that’s gone offline, only to uncover a hijacking. Shirakaya’s subsequent shore leave to see her family turns out much the same: she and bodyguard Yarasuro have to rescue her brother Khal’jan from a murderous artificial intelligence. It isn’t long, though, before Shirakaya once again faces off against the koth’vurians, led by the formidable Ashkaratoth. Shirakaya’s predicament, meanwhile, turns dire as her magic continues to weaken. She’s not able to save everyone, and she fears she’s lost so many people that the Ruzurai will soon have her court-martialed. The story delves right into action and rarely lets up. The Celestial crew’s exploits are endless fun, braving monsters from the air and sea, with an emergency touchdown on planet MJ453 and a crash landing on another, unknown world. Shirakaya’s arcane abilities are familiar but chic; she casts icicles and fireballs and uses telekinesis to hurl enemies through the air. There are times when the novel feels like a series of short tales, the captain and others jumping from one misfortune to the next. Centeno (Blood Immortal, 2015, etc.) does, however, tie them together, especially with characters like Xorvaj, a pirate who threatens to kill children in one scene and returns later as a pseudo-ally. The concluding chapter takes the saga on a drastic turn, but it’s a welcome one that puts Shirakaya on the same side as seedy characters and sets the stage for Book 2.

Sci-fi and fantasy merge to form an entertaining romp in space.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2019

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


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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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