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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As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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CLOUD CUCKOO LAND

An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future.

Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lip—but forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled ex–GI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Library—unaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146.

As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982168-43-8

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Funny, sad, astute, occasionally creepy, and slyly irresistible.

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APPLES NEVER FALL

Australian novelist Moriarty combines domestic realism and noirish mystery in this story about the events surrounding a 69-year-old Sydney woman’s disappearance.

Joy and Stan Delaney met as champion tennis players more than 50 years ago and ran a well-regarded tennis academy until their recent retirement. Their long, complicated marriage has been filled with perhaps as much passion for the game of tennis as for each other or their children. When Joy disappears on Feb. 14, 2020 (note the date), the last text she sends to her now-grown kids—bohemian Amy, passive Logan, flashy Troy, and migraine-suffering Brooke—is too garbled by autocorrect to decipher and stubborn Stan refuses to accept that there might be a problem. But days pass and Joy remains missing and uncharacteristically silent. As worrisome details come to light, the police become involved. The structure follows the pattern of Big Little Lies (2014) by setting up a mystery and then jumping months into the past to unravel it. Here, Moriarty returns to the day a stranger named Savannah turned up bleeding on the Delaneys’ doorstep and Joy welcomed her to stay for an extended visit. Who is Savannah? Whether she’s innocent, scamming, or something else remains unclear on many levels. Moriarty is a master of ambiguity and also of the small, telling detail like a tossed tennis racket or the repeated appearance of apple crumble. Starting with the abandoned bike that's found by a passing motorist on the first page, the evidence that accumulates around what happened to Joy constantly challenges the reader both to notice which minor details (and characters) matter and to distinguish between red herrings and buried clues. The ultimate reveal is satisfying, if troubling. But Moriarty’s main focus, which she approaches from countless familiar and unexpected angles, is the mystery of family and what it means to be a parent, child, or sibling in the Delaney family—or in any family, for that matter.

Funny, sad, astute, occasionally creepy, and slyly irresistible.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-22025-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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