A solid entry in the sci-fi genre, with enough horror and supernatural elements to discourage readers from turning off their...

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SAWDUST

People from across the United States band together to stop dimension-hopping demons from annihilating humankind in the author’s latest sci-fi outing (The Aladdin Project, 2011).

Strange glowing orbs in the mountains and birds falling from the sky are merely the first signs that creatures from another dimension are making their way to Earth. Thousands of curious people travel to the Teotihuacan pyramids in Mexico City, where a signal is being transmitted to an unknown destination. Soon a celestial being makes an appearance there. Not long afterward, a ragtag team, including priests, detectives, ghost hunters and a medium, embarks on a “holy mission” to stop the aliens—and believes that God is on its side. There are quite a few main characters in Winkles’ novel, but he doesn’t skimp on their development; everyone has distinctive abilities and some even have superpowers, including superior strength and the ability to see the future, among others. Most of the secondary characters who aren’t a part of the quest, however, become demon fodder later in the story. The demons, meanwhile, are described in all their glory and are often delightfully grotesque; one character equates part of a creature with a gutted catfish. The monsters also attack humans in ghastly, graphic ways, including burrowing into a person’s body. The book handles its religious themes boldly and prudently. For example, a priest, Father Moretti, suggests that the celestial being at the pyramids was in fact an angel sent to sanctify their mission; however, the same priest had previously been reprimanded by the Catholic Church, in part, for his scientific approach to religion. The novel, despite its ambition, is not epic in length, and it wraps up its story without feeling rushed or incomplete.

A solid entry in the sci-fi genre, with enough horror and supernatural elements to discourage readers from turning off their lights.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478364351

Page Count: 362

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2013

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

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 lively, offbeat novel.

ELSEWHERE

California man Jeffy Coltrane and his 11-year-old daughter, Amity, discover the wonders and horrors of multiverse travel after an inventor entrusts them with a special device.

The inventor, on the run from dark government forces, instructs Coltrane to put this $76 billion "key to everything" into safekeeping and never use it. But when Amity's pet mouse strolls across its controls, the device activates, whisking father and daughter—and mouse—off to an alternate Earth. Danger greets them in the form of a nasty creature that is half boy and half chimp, and there are other threats. But Amity is in no rush to return to normalcy after Googling her long-missing mother and determining she is alive and well on Earth 1.13. However, re-connecting with Mom, who walked out on her family seven years ago, saying she felt "empty," proves problematic: In this parallel world, Jeffy and Amity were both run over by a car—seven years ago. For all the other scary things there are across the multiverse, including genocidal robots marching up the Pacific Coast Highway, none is more frightening than the neo-fascist enforcers now operating back home on "Earth Prime." As heavy-handed as Koontz is in nailing down this timely theme, it's disappointing to see him pull back from its broader implications and invest his villainy in a rather predictable sociopathic bad guy who will do anything to lay his hands on the special device. And it is not always easy to keep all the multiple Earths and versions of people straight. But otherwise, this is a colorful, imaginative spin into SF by the prolific, wide-ranging writer.

A lively, offbeat novel.

Pub Date: tomorrow

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1985-9

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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