by Robert Tomoguchi ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 31, 2022
A sensational conclusion to a dark, captivating series.
Awards & Accolades
A powerful vampire leader struggling with continuous loss must stop the menace that’s threatening her bloodline in this final part of Tomoguchi’s horror trilogy.
It’s been just over a year since Orly Solodnikova became empress of the Cobălcescu bloodline. Having consumed the bloodline’s most potent blood, she’s the strongest among the vampires she reigns over. But the 23-year-old, who’s forever stuck in a 12-year-old body, is wracked with loneliness. She dearly misses those in her life who have died, and she’s so depressed that she sends away the only two people she loves: vampire Berthold and her “fledgling,” Kristy, whom Orly made immortal; they’re in a relationship with each other and contemplating a future without Orly. The empress wallows in self-isolation at her Los Angeles home until she gets news of her old enemy Trajan. He’s been rallying other covens against Orly and may be behind the recent spate of murders of Cobălcescu in Europe. It gets worse when Berthold and Kristy suddenly go missing, most likely in Trajan’s hands. Orly’s bloodline needs her now more than ever, and she vows to protect the Cobălcescu and take out Trajan and any of his cohorts. This necessitates staunch leadership and politicking, as she meets with such mighty vampire groups as the Eternal (with each member clocking in at 2,000-plus years old) and the Azunu, the world’s oldest coven, based in Rwanda. Orly fights to prevent a war and eliminate Trajan, while hoping that she finds Berthold and Kristy alive.
This cohesive three-novel series is a vampire story with heart. Tomoguchi’s protagonist has always been sympathetic; she began as an orphan and, in her latest outing, suffers great emotional turmoil. She also faces numerous obstacles that mere mortals will find relatable. Some of the vampire leaders, for example, don’t take her seriously because of her age, as she’s thousands of years younger than many other immortals. She’s also still learning her powers, having acquired untold abilities from a vampire she drained. Seemingly endless pressures weigh her down, but Orly, time and again, proves formidable. She wields the unique art of “scribbling” black-crayon drawings that reveal others’ evil, or their “darkest desire.” This doesn’t just expose villainous secrets, but allows Orly to see what she may be keeping from herself as well. As a vampire, she can also access the Oblivion—a personal dreamlike place and the setting for the novel’s most heartfelt moments, as Orly seeks advice and solace from her late mother, Yelena. Orly sits down with a handful of commanding vampires; she aims for peaceful discussions and occasionally engages in fanged conflict. There’s some intriguing globetrotting, too, that takes her to various lands, from the western United States and Romania to the Netherlands and Argentina. Tomoguchi’s taut prose fuels the narrative, but his dialogue, which includes telepathic conversation, is a highlight: “I suppose title characters in an opera should always expect to die,” Berthold observes at one point. The compact plot more than earns its gratifying denouement.A sensational conclusion to a dark, captivating series.
Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2022
Page Count: 449
Publisher: Ink Bleeds Books
Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2022
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Alex Michaelides ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 16, 2024
More style than substance.
Michaelides takes a literary turn in his latest novel, employing an unreliable narrator, the structure of classical drama, and a self-conscious eye to dismantling the locked-room mystery.
The novel starts off with a murder, and with seven people trapped on an isolated Greek island lashed by a "wild, unpredictable Greek wind." The narrator, soon established as Elliot Chase, then zooms out to address the reader directly, introducing the players—most importantly movie star Lana Farrar. We meet her husband, Jason Miller, her son, Leo, and her friend Kate Crosby, a theater actress. We learn about her rise to fame and her older first husband, Otto Krantz, a Hollywood producer. We learn about Kate’s possibly stalling career and Leo’s plan to apply to acting schools against his mother’s wishes. We learn about Jason’s obsession with guns. And in fragments and shards, we learn about Elliot: his painful childhood; his May–September relationship with an older female writer, now dead; his passion for the theater, where he learned “to change everything about [himself]” to fit in. Though he isn't present in every scene, he conveys each piece of the story leading up to the murder as if he were an omniscient narrator, capable of accessing every character's interior perspective. When he gets to the climax, there is, indeed, a shooting. There is, indeed, a motive. And there is, of course, a twist. The atmosphere of the novel, set mostly on this wild Greek island, echoes strongly the classical tragedies of Greece. The characters are types. The emotions are operatic. And the tragedy, of course, leads us to question the idea of fate. Michaelides seems also to be dipping into the world of Edgar Allan Poe, offering an unreliable narrator who feels more like a literary exercise. As an exploration of genre, it’s really quite fascinating. As a thriller, it’s not particularly surprising.More style than substance.
Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2024
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Celadon Books
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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