A spirited novel that provides a deep, rich foundation for a planned fantasy series.



In this fantasy debut, several humanoid societies are thrown into chaos after their emperor darkly interprets a prophecy.

Seventeen-year-old Amanki of the Tzoladian village of Arvuk has webbed feet, like the rest of his people, who’ve adapted to a life of fishing along the Lanaduk River. One day, his friend Baskrod, a fisherman, warns his family that they must flee. Emperor Zoltov of Tzoladia believes that a prophecy has “confirmed his worst fears” about the return of his brother, whom he buried alive. The ruler sets in motion a genocide before a “new star glows in the skies,” which will signal the emergence of a threat to the throne. Baskrod and Amanki barely escape when horsemen, led by the brutal Bladar, attack Arvuk. Meanwhile, in the Mesmeringa Forest village of Kalpok, 16-year-old Brina (a Glider, who can use flaps of skin under her arms to fly) sees a new, bright star in the Duck Constellation. She knows that it’s her destiny to meet two other “chosen” young people in Tzoladia. Moshoi, a youth from the rocky Hattom region who’s covered in scales, is the final member of this heroic team. If they can all meet up in Tzoladia, the artifacts that they possess—three Titilanzur “star prophecy” seals—will reveal “the land where the hidden treasure lies.” In this debut, Denny offers well-developed concepts, such as the mesmeringa tree—which provides the Gliders with food, medicine, and their homes. The character Metlan, of the Samalitan Plains people, has no physical enhancements, but he represents the human capacity for growth; he begins the novel with the certainty that the Gliders only resemble people, but are, in fact, animals, but Brina’s passion and kindness change his mind. Occasional scenes of violence are quite effective, as when Amanki witnesses a scalping, and the emperor’s notion of harvesting webbed feet or Glider claws is utterly gruesome. This first volume gives the protagonists lively, separate adventures, readying them for future installments in one another’s company. Amanki, however, is the breakout character whose fate will most engage readers.

A spirited novel that provides a deep, rich foundation for a planned fantasy series.

Pub Date: April 9, 2017


Page Count: 547

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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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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