An unsettling and visceral journey: powerful, twisted, and grim but ultimately uplifting.

THE BLADE BETWEEN

Supernatural and uncomfortably human forces threaten to rip a failing town apart.

In the 19th century, Hudson, New York, was a bustling port and whaling town. The blood of the slaughtered whales soaked into the earth, and their powerful spiritual presence permeated the area. Twenty-first century Hudson is poised between decay and a gentrified rebirth thanks to newly arrived billionaire Jark Trowse and a coterie of investors turning local mom-and-pop shops and familiar but dingy diners into upscale antique stores and boutique eateries. The town is divided between those who welcome the new people and their money and those who are losing everything they love to the invasion. As Jark embarks on what will likely be a victorious mayoral campaign, whale and human ghosts lure Ronan Szepessy, a successful New York City photographer and recovering drug addict, back to the hometown that brutally rejected him for being gay and showed little sympathy when his mother committed suicide. Ronan is disgusted by the changes he sees in Hudson and despairs at the state of his father, a butcher whose shop failed and who is now declining into dementia. He embarks on a volatile plan with Attalah, a high school friend, to confound the gentrifiers even while he carries on a secret affair with her husband, Dom, a cop who is never quite accepted by the rest of the force because he’s Black. The town ghosts have granted Ronan powers that lend his efforts a supernatural heft, but Ronan’s complex feelings about his past and the people of Hudson also rouse darker forces that tip the town toward violence and chaos. It’s amazing how several of the same motifs that appeared in Miller’s cli-fi novel Blackfish City (2018)—whales, the abyss between the rich and poor, the struggle for housing, and a mysterious broadcast which brings hope—appear in this novel but in entirely fresh and equally effective shapes. The story is also strongly informed by Miller’s own history as a gay man brought up in Hudson, the son of a butcher who lost his shop to a big-box store.

An unsettling and visceral journey: powerful, twisted, and grim but ultimately uplifting.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296982-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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