An adventure of eye-opening cleverness.

THE THIEF AND THE DEMON

This epic-fantasy debut sees a thief unwittingly unleash a demon that feeds on wizards.

There are thousands of kingdoms in the World Belt. Fistmar, a lieutenant in the Thieves Guild, hails from the opulent city of Aranvail. After copying the secret logbook of his boss, Gloster, Fistmar heads to Schtalegaard. There, he robs the foolish Prince Caolan, who’s passed out after a night of drink and gambling. Fistmar later finds himself imprisoned for the prince’s murder, although he claims he’s not a killer; still, Mikhael Schtalfir, Duke Schtalegaard’s castellan, plans to torture the thief to death. Luckily, Fistmar possesses a false, magical tooth—a gift from the wizard Maevendin—that helps him pick the lock and escape his dungeon cell. Yet as he’s running through the labyrinthine prison beneath the Duke’s castle, the tooth seems to guide him. He finds a chamber of blue stone, and within it is a door that the wizard Faeramivor, who worked alongside Mikhael, warns him not to open. But open it he does, releasing a demon that explosively drains Faeramivor’s essence. Fistmar uses the ensuing chaos to head for Aranvail, seeking to clear his name of the Prince’s murder. However, a trio of warrior spirits tell him, “You freed the demon, and in doing so, you were bound to it.” In this striking debut, author Macdonald breaks from the epic-fantasy herd with electric prose and a true sense of the cinematic. Major characters receive memorable introductions, including Miranna, the famous, beautiful gambler whom Fistmar loves; and Norvik, who reluctantly helps him escape Aranvail’s treachery. The demon is fabulously described: “Teeth swam beneath its skin, to sometimes tear through in rictus grins, or to fly forward on tentacle limbs.” Macdonald also has great fun with magic, employing portals controlled by warlocks called the Scarlet Brotherhood, and Soulstones that can transfer spirits to fresh bodies. The worldbuilding and plot never compete with each other, resulting in an excellent series foundation.

An adventure of eye-opening cleverness.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9979231-1-7

Page Count: 462

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2018

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A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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