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AFTER ME COMES THE FLOOD

A mysterious fable about honesty and deceit, love and self-loathing, and our sometimes-doomed quests for inner peace.

In this eerie debut novel from Perry (Melmoth, 2018, etc.), now published in the U.S. for the first time, a man becomes lost in the woods only to be welcomed by a household of strange but passionate residents.

Tired of the summer heat, John Cole sets off from his London bookshop to visit his brother, who lives by the sea. But John never arrives. In the dark Thetford forest, his car breaks down, and he loses his way in the woods. At the end of a path, he reaches the door of a grand mansion. The young girl who opens it seems to recognize him. "John Cole! Is that you? It is you, isn't it—it must be, I'm so glad. I've been waiting for you all day!" So begins Perry's unsettling debut, which shuttles between fairy story and allegory without ever resolving into a single shape or genre. The house is both magnificent and menacing, with "broken chandeliers trailing chipped strings of glass drops," a glass eye constantly changing hands, and empty meat hooks dangling in the kitchen. Consumed with dread and guilt about being an imposter, John chronicles his days with the residents in a journal that reads like a fever dream. There's Hester, a fiercely protective matron and former actress; Elijah, a former preacher who has lost his faith and fears going outside; Walker, a chain-smoking, card-playing devil in a rumpled tuxedo; Eve, a coquettish pianist who longs for attention; and the siblings Clare and Alex, otherworldly changelings who seem at once capable of complete innocence and total guile. Unlike Perry's following two novels, plot matters less than mood here—confusion, uncertainty, and endless possibility unfold over the week of John's stay. Even the sundial in the garden tells "two times at once." What connects this fragile household together? Who is sending Alex cruel poison-pen letters? Why does Eve make John feel "pain set up very low in his stomach…as if hooks had been pushed through his flesh"? And whose place has John actually taken? Like Shirley Jackson, Carmen Maria Machado, and other evocative masters of the gothic, Perry circles closer to answers without ever dispelling the magic that holds her narrative in breathless suspense.

A mysterious fable about honesty and deceit, love and self-loathing, and our sometimes-doomed quests for inner peace.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266640-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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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 SILENT PATIENT

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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