A lengthy, labyrinthine story about one’s family’s battle against evil.

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K-N tells the story of a pastor attempting to save his brother from occult forces in this contemporary debut Christian fantasy.

Edward James Lanston, a member of a demonic secret society due to a pact an ancestor made with the king of the locusts, has recently been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. He suspects it has something to do with a magical attack that was recently made on his life—an attack sanctioned by Earle Marrow, the head of his society—during which an angelic being intervened to save him. Edward goes to his adopted father, a Christian billionaire, to seek his help, but the society quickly spirits the man away to keep him from interfering. This leads Edward’s adopted brother, the capable pastor and medical doctor Ace Cadman, to take steps to protect the family from the society (“When Ace Cadman showed up, it always brought comfort, solutions to problems, and at times like this, great relief”). Mounting pressures—the investigation into his missing father, his brother’s illness, and the management of his family’s fortune—weigh heavily on Ace even with God’s help. The good doctor manages to keep Edward alive...for now. But how involved can he become in the secret lives of the Lanstons without risking those of his own family? K-N’s story is epic in its scope and ambitions, and she manages to evoke the dramatic religiosity of the Old Testament: angels walking among men, spells of protection, and God as a direct presence in the lives of the characters. But the characters’ dialogue often sounds off: “And what is that?” Edward’s wife says to his doctor after learning he has glioblastoma multiforme. “Don’t throw us a name as though it’s something our chef serves us up for breakfast every morning.” The book’s main problem, however, is the odd, meandering nature of the plot, which snakes on interminably without ever becoming all that engrossing. With angels and demons doing the heavy lifting, the mortal characters lack the necessary agency to elicit emotional investment.

A lengthy, labyrinthine story about one’s family’s battle against evil.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-9947-7

Page Count: 424

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2019

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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