Like Charlaine Harris’ Midnight, Texas saga this is cutting-edge genre fiction that will appeal to genre fans as well as...

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Masters' Mysterium

LAS VEGAS

This rousing sequel to Reynolds’ debut novel (Masters’ Mysterium: Wisconsin Dells, 2013) continues a paranormal fantasy saga chronicling the epic battle between angels and demons and the humans entangled in their war.

After what happened in Wisconsin Dells, the world now knows of the existence of angels and demons. With the ladder (the angels’ means of traveling to and from Earth) in Wisconsin Dells destroyed, the primary mission for the humans involved in the angels’ plight—like former waitress Trudy Masters and her husband, Gavin, who now has the ability to heal others with his touch—is to somehow quietly relocate an entire town to a new location: Calamity, Nevada, 30 miles outside of Sin City. But setting up a ladder in Calamity proves to be a dangerous venture, especially when a group of Vegas demons attempts to manipulate the situation to its advantage. The already volatile situation becomes even more complicated when Trudy’s father—who owns the museum of oddities known as Masters’ Mysterium—literally makes a deal with the devil. This saga is simply extraordinary on several levels. Reynolds takes the angels-vs.-demons genre—one filled with mind-numbing stereotypes and clichés—and creates a profound new mythos. His vision is unique, his characters well-developed, the pacing relentless. It’s paranormal fantasy, yes, but that shouldn’t dissuade readers disinterested in the genre. Powered by utterly readable writing and a diverse cast of characters for whom readers will undoubtedly cheer, this novel isn’t so much about angels and demons as it is about the people ensnared in the conflict and their own intimate journeys of self-discovery.

Like Charlaine Harris’ Midnight, Texas saga this is cutting-edge genre fiction that will appeal to genre fans as well as mainstream fiction readers. It’s a storytelling tour de force no matter the categorization.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0988679733

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Masters' Mysterium Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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