Pale Fire for preteens and teens.

WRITER FERRETS: CHASING THE MUSE

VOL. III, THE FERRET CHRONICLES

Third and best in Bach’s Ferret Chronicles, following Air Ferrets Aloft (2002), with two more volumes promised—this year.

While the earlier installments were inspirational fables with ferrets as humans, neither was as focused as Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Bach’s 1972 bestseller. This time out, the plot will attract more adult readers, largely thanks to Bach’s revelations about the publishing game. In the beginning, Antonius Ferret tells us, all ferrets were given individual gifts—and one ferret was given the power to show visions, once he learned to write from the heart and touch the souls of kits as yet unborn. Handsome, golden-furred Budgeron Ferret works on a literary epic in his attic with a white silk scarf about his neck. His black mask forms a crisp W around his eyes—for Writer? With violet ink and a goose-feather quill, he begins Where Ferrets Walk, a swashbuckler featuring Count Urbain de Rothskit, that still has him in writer’s block on paragraph one. Even so, he’s published some genre short stories and a slow-selling novel—all typed. But his best work gets death notices. Meanwhile, his new bride Danielle, a pawicurist who hears all sorts of stories at work, decides to write and finds herself raptly fashioning the adventures of Veronique, the naughty but insouciant vixen. Then Budgeron sells a quickie, Bevo the Hummingbird, makes a killing that allows them to move to Colorado and buy a ranch. After six rejections, Danielle’s Miss Mischief sells to Ferret House Press, Budgeron’s publisher. Despair for Budg until Danielle suggests using the dragon as his bodyguard and muse, telling him, “Have fun. Don’t think. Don’t care.” He bats out Bevo and the Bee Bandits in a week. Big stars, they go on a book tour, and then inspiration hits: he’ll write Bevo Meets the Count. And snippets of Bachian wisdom rain down.

Pale Fire for preteens and teens.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7432-2754-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

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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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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