Ambitious, entertaining start to a sexy YA paranormal adventure series.


of the lilin

In this debut fantasy novel, after family tragedy, college-age Sage Frankle discovers her supernatural capabilities and bloodline legacy.

Sage stands numb in front of a casket. She recently lost her mom to cancer, and now her stepfather’s friend David has died of unexpected heart failure. Her stepfather, off the wagon and wild with grief, tries to strangle her, and Sage’s world goes black. Before she knows it, her stepfather is in an alcohol treatment center, and she has put her college classes on hold to live with her aunt Ilia at the latter’s inn in another part of Vermont. Sage goes for counseling but is too depressed, too scared to delve deep. She doesn’t remember what happened with David, but she seems to read others’ thoughts and has been having odd dreams. Her cousin Lilly, who had left for a trip around the time of David’s demise, returns home, drawing to the surface the dark energy lurking throughout the inn. Sage either sees or imagines Lilly in bondage sex with the local “Playboy Chef,” who is then weakened by a mystery illness. Handsome, angelic Lucien, whom Lilly treats as her master, arrives on the scene, as do Tate, a sweet, nerdy mythology major and son of the ailing chef, and Desden, Sage’s gay tattoo artist best friend from home. As Sage’s strange behavior escalates, Ilia finally explains all, and the group bands together to deal with the girls’ powers and the “portal” gateway of the inn. To launch this planned series of tales focused on these alluring young women, debut author Hampton sets up a diverse cast of players and a solid, believable back story that draws from Jewish folklore. Some of the characters, such as a crime writer who’s a frequent guest at the inn, are rather awkwardly introduced, perhaps to be further developed in future installments. Overall, however, Hampton conjures a heady blend of eroticism, fantasy, humor and coming-of-age angst that should appeal to both Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans.

Ambitious, entertaining start to a sexy YA paranormal adventure series.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615964560

Page Count: 360

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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