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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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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