An intriguing premise hindered by inaccessible writing.

READ REVIEW

DAWN OF THE INCONCEIVABLE "BABE"

Shaba’s mythical tale centers on the birth of a fated child to John and Lin, a young couple in the African nation of Kentu, and the subsequent attempts by a demonic religious sect to steal the child for its own purposes.

The supernatural plot blends an old-fashioned romance between the couple with familiar contemporary references, like BMW cars and the Richter scale. The opening pages reveal the novel’s overall drive: John and Lin, as well as other wealthy Christian families somehow connected to a benevolent “New World Order,” will battle demon worshippers intent on kidnapping newborn babies. However, readers are first shown the courtship involved in John and Lin’s “mythic love” and their elaborate “royal”-style wedding. Working against them is Mantula, one of the members of the devilish religious sect—they believe the baby to be the reincarnation of their founder—who aims to steal the baby so that she may become the sect’s first female leader. They send evil spirits to attack Kentu and the baby’s delivery location. Unfortunately, the tension within this plot structure is undermined by the author’s unclear, oddly formal writing style. Secondly, the frequent use of an omniscient narrator means readers are told John’s and Lin’s feelings rather than experiencing them in first person, resulting in a greater separation between characters and readers. For example, pregnant Lin is first described as “sturdy, keen, and hopeful to the very day she will put to bed as all expectant mothers always yearn for-for every expectant mother, the delivery day is special to them and for Lin, it wasn’t different. About nine months of a fetus inside the womb wasn’t a joke.” Even when John and Lin talk to each other during their dates, the same formal style is used: “It is my greatest pleasure to be with a lady of your type.”

An intriguing premise hindered by inaccessible writing.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1419644320

Page Count: 566

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

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A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

THE BOOK OF V.

Esther, the Old Testament teenager who reluctantly married a Persian king and saved her people, is connected across the ages to two more contemporary women in a sinuous, thoughtful braid of women’s unceasing struggles for liberty and identity.

Biblical Esther, second-wave feminist Vee, and contemporary mother-of-two Lily are the women whose narrative strands and differing yet sometimes parallel dilemmas are interwoven in Solomon’s (Leaving Lucy Pear, 2016, etc.) questing, unpredictable new novel. All three are grappling—some more dangerously than others—with aspects of male power versus their own self-determination. Esther, selected from 40 virgins to be the second queen—after her predecessor, Vashti, was banished (or worse)—is the strangest. Her magical powers can bring on a shocking physical transformation or reanimate a skeletal bird, yet she is still a prisoner in a gilded cage, mother to an heir, frustrated daughter of an imperiled tribe. Vee, wife of an ambitious senator in 1970s Washington, finds herself a player in a House of Cards–type scenario, pressured toward sexual humiliation by her unscrupulous husband. Lily, in 21st-century Brooklyn, has chosen motherhood over work and is fretting about the costumes for her two daughters to wear at the Purim carnival honoring Esther. Alongside questions of male dominance, issues of sexuality arise often, as do female communities, from Esther’s slave sisters to Vee’s consciousness-raising groups to Lily’s sewing circle. And while layers of overlap continue among the three women's stories—second wives, sewing, humming—so do subtly different individual choices. Finely written and often vividly imagined, this is a cerebral, interior novel devoted to the notion of womanhood as a composite construction made up of myriad stories and influences.

A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25701-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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