Kennett (Chameleon, 1998, etc.) writes with pace and clarity but little originality or intentional humor, though there’s...

BURNING ROSE

Ecoterrorist Rose Shikuru, a.k.a. Burning Rose, uses her fragile beauty and a veneer of vulnerability to ensnare the powerful men she ruthlessly kills (exploding roses are her preferred method). Rose is a member of The Six, which also includes the operatives known as Tearful Clown, Chess Master, Cold-Blooded Serpent, Playful Cat, and Wrongful Death—an assembly of outlandish alter egos and matching costumes unrivaled outside the pages of Batman, each with an unusual and violent backstory, all of them solemnly recounted here, that explains his affiliation with The Six. Rose’s current conquest is elusive tycoon Robert Gunner, who may have ominous designs on the Amazon rain forest. Two wild cards complicate Rose’s mission. Reggie Camden, Gunner’s street-smart chief bodyguard, keeps a close watch on his boss and doesn’t seem to trust Rose. More troublesome is Maui-based writer/free-spirit Casey Washington. Casey and Gunner meet cute when, in search of an interview, she bluffs her way past a phalanx of underlings and gets into his office, only to be turned away after some sexually charged banter. Undaunted, Casey keeps trying to get the interview, but Gunner, to Rose’s chagrin, seems not at all displeased by her efforts. Despite these obstacles, Rose is determined to kill Gunner or die in the attempt.

Kennett (Chameleon, 1998, etc.) writes with pace and clarity but little originality or intentional humor, though there’s plenty of the other kind. Still, if you’re hungry for such vivid characters as the inscrutable Asian villainess and the plucky blue-eyed blond heroine, your ship has come in.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7862-3661-2

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Five Star/Gale Cengage

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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