Equally appealing back story and characters make a sequel to this novel about an animal spirit something to look forward to.

The Hunted Tribe


A teen descendant of a tribe cursed by an ancient creature may be the one who can save his bloodline in this horror tale.

When Sean Wolf’s parents send him to stay with Grandma Elizabeth in the San Juan Islands, it’s certainly not a vacation. They’ve effectively banned him from their home, believing Sean deliberately set a fire that injured his father, Henry. Elizabeth thinks Sean may have done it subconsciously, protecting his family with magic. Mom Mary saw the raven mark in the fire, the calling card of the Grishla, an animal spirit that the Dwanake tribe attempted to enslave centuries ago. Taking the form of a Velociraptor-esque Deinonychus, the Grishla targets tribe scions in retaliation. But there’s good news: a second mark (the number 13) means Sean broke the Grishla’s spell, convincing Elizabeth he’s the Ultra-Witch, powerful enough to fight the creature. Elizabeth gradually relays this to her grandson so she can begin training him to perfect his witchcraft. But she keeps mum about the “hideous experiments” on children to create an Ultra-Witch—which remain mysterious even to readers. Sean, meanwhile, makes a few friends: Jimmy Cooper, Tom Wright, and Bear. A night of camping in the woods sounds like fun, but it’s unfortunately a prime spot for the Grishla to attack. Gray (New England: Weird, 2016, etc.) delivers suspense throughout: Sean dreams of Civil War ancestor Srinam Srinivasan (and his wife and child) being pursued by the monster, while recurrent red eyes indicate its proximity to various people. But the exposition also offers engaging character development. Sean, for example, regrets tormenting Mary, buying books on black magic just to agitate her. The teens’ dynamic is likewise solid, with churchgoing Jimmy struggling to forgive allegedly reformed bully Tom, responsible for Jimmy’s hellish treatment in school. Gray spends a little too much time on Elizabeth’s vegan cooking, with Sean excessively gushing over portobello mushroom French dip sandwiches. But there’s plenty of meat—vegan or not—to the plot, delving into the tribe’s history as well as Mary’s; her strong Christian beliefs may stem from escaping black magic in her own lineage. The ending drops a nice twist and setup for Book 2.

Equally appealing back story and characters make a sequel to this novel about an animal spirit something to look forward to.

Pub Date: March 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5305-0808-2

Page Count: 280

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2016

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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

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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

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