An appealing little fancy. Display this upfront.

THE OVERNIGHT

Amusingly damp horror in a fog-bound British bookstore. Don’t touch that shelf!

Despite his many titles and high standing among lovers of babbling madness, Campbell (The Darkest Part of the Woods, 2003, etc.) reveals in his acknowledgments that he found himself short-funded in March 2001 and went to work at a British branch of Borders. He avers that none of the folks in his novel resemble fellow book-shelvers met during those days in the darkest part of the royalty woods. Woody Blake, an American manager for Texts bookstores who has put shops shipshape in New Orleans and Minneapolis, has now been sent to Fenny Meadows Retail Park in northern England to open a giant new Texts store. In the States, such haunts are usually built on an Indian burial ground, but this one is on a fenny meadow—which means things get very misty. And that’s not all. Overnight, books leap from their rightful shelf to that opposite. They resist nightly tidying up after closing hour and lie splayed about come morning. People order books, but orders vanish from computer screens or the book lands among the discards, its inner pages lost and print blurry. Blurry print spreads like a virus. Books get grubby, damp, slimed. Weird damp fog-things (well, squat gray jellies) slurp about the aisles at night. A hit-and-run kills store worker Lorraine in the car park. Another worker, mind-wiped, can no longer make sense of words. And now the bosses are coming for a Christmas-rush inspection of Woody’s work. Horrors: this calls for an overnight with the whole staff pitching in to put the store in order. Power fizzles, something invades and blurs the grey computer screens. And can the inspectors even find the shop in the sodden fog on this sinking soggy tarmac? The mud, the mud! Whole villages long ago sank from sight right here.

An appealing little fancy. Display this upfront.

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-765-31299-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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