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BLOOD MOON

A CAPTIVE'S TALE

A subtle dramatization of the conflict between white settlers and Native Americans in the 19th century.

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In this work of historical fiction set in the Midwest during the Civil War, Sioux warriors seize a woman and her children. 

Sarah Wakefield lives in southern Minnesota in Sioux territory—her husband, John, is a government-appointed doctor assigned to the reservation. The regular annuity paid to the Sioux is yet again delayed, and already strained relations between them and their often cruel white counterparts become even more acrimonious. Finally, when it becomes clear an outburst of violence is imminent, John sends Sarah and her two young children away, but her escort is murdered and she is captured by two Sioux fighters. One of them, Hapa, is eager to kill her, but his brother-in-law, Chaska, protects Sarah from harm and vows to remain her faithful guardian. While in captivity, Sarah is in constant danger, but Chaska and his mother, Ina, vigilantly watch over her, help her blend in, and hide her when necessary. She even flirts with the possibility of becoming one of them: “If I knew I would never be rescued, I think I could be content among the Sioux. Ina has become like a mother to me—certainly, a better mother than the one I left in Rhode Island. And Chaska is one of the most honorable men I have ever known.” When finally rescued, she has to save Chaska’s life by testifying to his admirable behavior and repair her own tattered reputation as a sympathizer and traitor. Chatlien (The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, 2013) writes with nuanced sensitivity, nimbly cataloging the horrors each side visits upon the other. Even Sarah’s marriage is depicted without yielding to facile simplicity—her husband can be sweet and chivalrous but also petty and cold. In a few spots, the author seems tempted by the desire to impart a didactic lesson—there is good and bad among all kinds—but resists even these minor concessions to moralistic judgment. In addition, Chatlien’s mastery of the historical period—especially the life and culture of the Sioux—is notable and creates a fictional atmosphere of authenticity. 

A subtle dramatization of the conflict between white settlers and Native Americans in the 19th century. 

Pub Date: June 14, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 423

Publisher: Amika Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE NIGHTINGALE

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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