Nuance becomes a little lost in the mix of monsters and humans, but an unwavering pace promises unending entertainment.


Wicked Prayers

An evil, hellish entity attacks a small town in Washington, creating minions and plotting the destruction of humankind in this horror yarn.

When pregnant Elizabeth Holly is abducted by crazy ex-reverend Old Man Wilson, her husband, John, and daughter, Julia, manage to save her and her infant son. But Julia fears it may have been more than a mere kidnapping when her new baby brother, Waed, sports “the face of evil”—a twisted expression, dark eyes, and a long, thin tongue. Later, a nurse, following what seem to be Waed’s telepathic instructions, cuts hearts from people’s chests and flees the hospital with the child. Waed rapidly grows into the Beast and assaults citizens in Autumntown, either killing or infecting them, slowly building an army of creatures at his command. The townsfolk, including detective partners Del Camron and Jack Richards, soon learn the Beast is the Dark One, the guardian of darkness, with aspirations for hell to reign on Earth. Not quite at full power, the Beast needs to consume three particular kinds of hearts. Del, Jack, and others arm themselves to battle tentacled creatures, eventually called Leapers, and hopefully find a way to kill the Beast. The novel certainly isn’t short on action, with a myriad of confrontations between humans and monsters, making it sometimes hard to keep up with the scores of characters filling the pages. Moore (The Adventures of PJ and Split Pea Vol. II, 2010, etc.) wisely names a few of the more formidable Leapers, like Dairitch, the sinister soul of a trickster infused with an infected human. Conversely, some of the humans barely register, introduced immediately prior to their deaths or transformations into nameless creatures. Nevertheless, the back story involving a character’s father provides a strange but enthralling origin for the Beast, or at least explains why he chose Autumntown. The Beast, too, becomes gradually more terrifying as he garners more powers, such as levitation. The narrative does have its lighter moments; the humans’ surprisingly effective homemade defense, “monster acid” (a clever concoction best left unspoiled for readers), paves the way for cheerworthy combat moments.

Nuance becomes a little lost in the mix of monsters and humans, but an unwavering pace promises unending entertainment.

Pub Date: June 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-1665-6

Page Count: 246

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2016

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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