A boisterous retread of the Bard’s classic, minus the elegant writing and psychological complexity.

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CORDELIA LIONHEART

A righteous daughter reclaims her father’s kingdom in this rendition of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Cordelia, 16-year-old daughter of Britain’s King Lear, opens this debut novel by vigorously applying her knee to the groin of Mundred, bastard son of the earl of Gloucester and would-be rapist, the first of her many attacks on toxic masculinity. She’s the innocent eye of a hurricane of ambition and treachery. Her elder sisters, Regan and Goneril, hatch rival plans to maneuver their respective husbands, the dukes of Cornwall and Albany, into seizing the throne. Both women also take the loathsome Mundred as a lover. Mundred orchestrates his own rise to power by murdering Gloucester, Cornwall, and Albany and raising a revolt against Lear, who placates him by naming Cordelia heir to the throne and promising him her hand. Alarmed at Mundred’s machinations, Cordelia vents increasingly strident indignation at Lear’s dithering refusal to punish him, and their relationship gets really nasty. (Father: “You’re a whore. And so was your mother.” Daughter: “I should hope my mother was a whore. I should hope she enjoyed making you a cuckold.”) Lear duly disinherits Cordelia and abdicates his crown to Regan and Goneril, which precipitates more bloodshed and war—and here the tale veers from dynastic melodrama into populist crusade. Cordelia, accompanied by Mundred’s sexy but passive half brother, Garred, goes to live among the peasantry and launches a class struggle—“The lives and happiness of working people depend upon their being secure in the ownership of the property they’ve accumulated through their labor,” she declaims—against aristocratic privilege. Fritsch’s ambitious version of the Lear saga has a raucous feminist energy to it, especially as the brash Cordelia develops a zest for slitting the throats of male miscreants. Unfortunately, the characters feel like cardboard—Regan and Goneril are cartoonishly bitchy; Mundred is a transparent psychopath; and Lear is simply a dunce for not heeding everyone’s advice to hang the monstrous villain—and the dialogue is not exactly poetic (“I wish to tell every other person in this kingdom what they may and may not do,” chortles Goneril). Readers who love the original may want to stick with it.

A boisterous retread of the Bard’s classic, minus the elegant writing and psychological complexity.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9978829-4-0

Page Count: 195

Publisher: Asymmetric Worlds

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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