by Paula Brackston ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2015
A stunning setting and bewitching premise make this book appealing, but Brackston’s execution falls short of its mark.
Grief, magic and the ancient world collide in Brackston’s (The Midnight Witch, 2014, etc.) fourth novel.
Still grieving the unexpected death of her husband, artist Tilda Fordwells moves into the remote cottage on a Welsh lake they had intended to share. But as Tilda becomes the center of a series of paranormal events, she soon realizes her pull to the area is anything but accidental. Equally unsettling are the curious new effect Tilda seems to have on electricity and the terrifying visions she's been having since settling into the cottage. Even as Tilda seeks to understand the bizarre new powers she possesses, she's blindsided by her attraction to Dylan, an archaeological diver hired to explore the ancient crannog that once dominated the lake. Alternating smoothly with the modern storyline is the tale of Seren Arianaidd, a 10th-century shaman charged with protecting Prince Brynach, the handsome royal who rules from the crannog on the lake. As the two stories unfold, the reader learns what ancient act of love and revenge ties the two women together—and what deadly, dark power has awoken from the dark waters of the lake. The story has moments of glory, but Brackston’s writing, so solid in earlier books, vacillates unpredictably between evocative and uninventive. Her use of description also founders: A full page is dedicated to detailing the interior contents of a hut, and three various men are described as “wiry” in the first hundred pages. And while the reader may thrill to the idea of both a contemporary and a historical romantic storyline, the romance between Prince Brynach and seer Seren feels disappointingly devoid of foundation, chemistry and heart. It may be only the die-hard fans of Brackston’s particular blend of history and fantasy that are able to overlook such missed opportunities.A stunning setting and bewitching premise make this book appealing, but Brackston’s execution falls short of its mark.
Pub Date: April 21, 2015
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
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
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
A deeply satisfying novel, both sensuously vivid and remarkably poignant.
Norwegian novelist Jacobsen folds a quietly powerful coming-of-age story into a rendition of daily life on one of Norway’s rural islands a hundred years ago in a novel that was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.
Ingrid Barrøy, her father, Hans, mother, Maria, grandfather Martin, and slightly addled aunt Barbro are the owners and sole inhabitants of Barrøy Island, one of numerous small family-owned islands in an area of Norway barely touched by the outside world. The novel follows Ingrid from age 3 through a carefree early childhood of endless small chores, simple pleasures, and unquestioned familial love into her more ambivalent adolescence attending school off the island and becoming aware of the outside world, then finally into young womanhood when she must make difficult choices. Readers will share Ingrid’s adoration of her father, whose sense of responsibility conflicts with his romantic nature. He adores Maria, despite what he calls her “la-di-da” ways, and is devoted to Ingrid. Twice he finds work on the mainland for his sister, Barbro, but, afraid she’ll be unhappy, he brings her home both times. Rooted to the land where he farms and tied to the sea where he fishes, Hans struggles to maintain his family’s hardscrabble existence on an island where every repair is a struggle against the elements. But his efforts are Sisyphean. Life as a Barrøy on Barrøy remains precarious. Changes do occur in men’s and women’s roles, reflected in part by who gets a literal chair to sit on at meals, while world crises—a war, Sweden’s financial troubles—have unexpected impact. Yet the drama here occurs in small increments, season by season, following nature’s rhythm through deaths and births, moments of joy and deep sorrow. The translator’s decision to use roughly translated phrases in conversation—i.e., “Tha’s goen’ nohvar” for "You’re going nowhere")—slows the reading down at first but ends up drawing readers more deeply into the world of Barrøy and its prickly, intensely alive inhabitants.A deeply satisfying novel, both sensuously vivid and remarkably poignant.
Pub Date: April 7, 2020
Page Count: 272
Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020
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