A psychologically acute but long-winded tale of trauma and redemption.




A Utah boy who survives horrific child sexual abuse fails to put it behind him as he matures into a brilliant, caustic, verbose teenager in this debut coming-of-age novel.

Growing up in Salt Lake City in the 1960s and ’70s, Owen Langley’s life is a Dickensian nightmare. The offspring of his mother’s rape by a stranger, the 5-year-old Owen is beaten and starved by his mom and her husband. After they commit suicide, Owen falls into the clutches of a ghoulish foster couple and is kept in the basement and regularly raped by the husband. An intervention and another suicide later, he’s adopted by the kindly James and Jean Crowley. But when James drops dead and Jean enters a mental institution, Owen winds up in the custody of the couple’s housekeeper, Mrs. Windom, who locks him in the basement for two weeks on a shredded wheat–and-water diet. First grade is a further ordeal of bullying and ostracism that’s worsened by Owen’s bookishness and Victorian rhetoric. (How a 6-year-old Utah kid learned to say “I won’t let you soil my parents’ good name” isn’t explored.) The sprawling tale then skips ahead to ninth grade, when Owen’s toffish grandiloquence effloresces. At one point, he tells a school bully: “You have not changed any over the summer, Wayne….Rather like a tedious ostinato, aren’t you? Or a birth defect—tiresome, monotonous, ineradicable.” The high school girls love that talk, and Owen is soon going steady with queen bee Roxanne Solleveld, whose family has its own backstory of molestation, murder, and suicide. Owen’s implausible maturity and thoughtfulness make him a big man on campus whom students and teachers alike turn to for counseling. Alas, his humane acceptance of gay students runs afoul of homophobic bullies, leading to yet more sexual assault and suicide. Walters’ melodrama and his prose style are dominated by Owen’s voice, which energizes the ambitious novel. He’s a complex, magnetic character, and the author skillfully dissects Owen’s inner turmoil as he deploys his arrogant intellect to cover up his insecurities and ward off the emotional connections he fears and craves. Unfortunately, 654 pages of the protagonist’s bombast, know-it-all-ism, and speechifying start to suck the air out of the story—one funeral oration drones on for four pages—especially because his incessant Wilde-an snark lacks Wilde’s wit. The result is a hero whom readers may not care about.

A psychologically acute but long-winded tale of trauma and redemption.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64228-032-6

Page Count: 668

Publisher: Izzard Ink

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.


In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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