A choppy fifth installment featuring philosophical musings and a cheekily optimistic conclusion.


The Owl from Oblivion

Biesele’s (The Saeshell Book of Time Part 4: The Ceremony of Life, 2014, etc.) latest Saeshell book is his most tangled tale to date.

The sci-fi/fantasy drama continues, opening with a familiar air of foreboding. Clarissa, the titular “Owl from Oblivion,” warns readers, in the disdainful manner of the series’ immortal characters, of the frailties and dangers posed by the human instincts of the central figures in the story. This fifth installment inhabits a world built on overlapping chronologies, with supernatural events and plot revelations featuring nearly all of its complicated characters. The stories feature Stefan, the most powerful alien/human/energy hybrid in existence; his mate, Tova2; his mother, a fairy queen named Anashivalia; Sophistan1, who has the memories of Stefan’s dead father; Stefan and Tova2’s son, Syon; Ty and his best friend, Tyco; the Pauls and Peters from the advanced civilization of Sophista; and many others. Paul25, in response to a major rip in time that Syon caused, transports Stefan, Syon, and others to a new timeline. When they arrive, they have different forms and diminished abilities; Stefan is only 7 years old, for example, and Syon is abused by a villainous adoptive father. They later connect their minds to their previous, supernatural selves and preserve their memories in a shared dream. The author splits the action of the book between the new chronology, in which the young children and a select few guardians advocate for their safety in a hostile world, and the fading dream of the supernatural timeline, riddled with evolving challenges of its own. As in previous books, Biesele uses humanity’s insecurities, lust, brutality, and, very occasionally, capacity for love, as recurring motifs. He also effectively includes revelations about the series’ multiple alien races, such as Sun Gods, Lizards, and Sophistans. However, although this book deepens the worldbuilding of the series, the erasure of the original timeline feels less like a plot advancement and more like a loss for the committed reader.

A choppy fifth installment featuring philosophical musings and a cheekily optimistic conclusion.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2015


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2015

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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