A charming and sometimes frightening ghost story.

CLAIRE

THE TUTOR'S GHOST STORIES

An apparition remains trapped in a house where a tragic crime occurred.

The novel opens with Max, a young boy, asking his tutor, Claire Harvey, to tell him a tale. She spins a moving ghost story about a young girl whose family plans to move far away. Her distraught boyfriend kills her and then himself so they can always be together. The twist is that Claire is that girl, and she’s a spirit stuck in the house where she was murdered. That first chapter could stand alone as a short story, but the rest of the book builds off of that, showing Claire’s afterlife in the house and the various people who reside there, ending with a battle that involves ghost hunters. She feels a special affinity for Max, who falls in love with her. It affects him later in life when he tries to date and then start a family. There is also a backstory about Claire’s confusion when she first woke up and didn’t realize she was a phantom. She thought her family had abandoned her and had to figure out what happened, which provides some sad and intriguing moments. Half the fun of reading ghost stories is in the rules authors create for their universes, and Galindo (The Tesla Project, 2016, etc.) has made his enjoyable and slightly complicated. Only people who believe in ghosts can spot Claire, but she has trouble seeing some of the living souls who don’t believe in spirits. This becomes poignant when a nonbeliever dies and can suddenly spy her, and she watches him move on while she can’t. In this entertaining story, Claire is an appealing character. Galindo has added some superb twists to her world, and the timeline allows him to show her perspective as technology and trends advance. But the novel isn’t faultless. Despite her comments about strange devices, Claire feels more modern in her dialogue and action than she should be—at one point, she craves a hamburger, recalling what it smelled like in real life. But she died in 1899, before the item became popular in America. And one philosophical battle toward the end between Max and a ghost hunter appears suddenly enough that it feels more like a plot device than a natural, story-driven occurrence. Still, none of these quibbles should wreck this tale for fans of the supernatural.

A charming and sometimes frightening ghost story.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-946921-00-0

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Tin Can

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more