An engrossing, magical, often violent, and tender tale, with one very captivating wolf.

TREK

A debut novel offers an adventure that mystically and biologically connects two families separated in time by more than 30,000 years.

On a treacherously stormy night, Dr. Will Celestian is high in the Peruvian Andes, accompanied by his 12-year-old son, Skyler, and his guide, Gabriel. Will is about to make the discovery of a lifetime—a deep cave that was home to the first Stone Age humans to cross from the Siberian Steppe onto the American continents. Skyler is the one who spots the passage to the cave. He rappels down a tunnel leading to a vast space and is the first to look upon the cave walls. There, he and Will see a series of enormous murals that depict the more than 10,000-mile journey made on foot by one family in search of a new “hearth” to call its own. Jump back 30,000 to 35,000 years, and readers meet Ruachk, a great hunter somewhere on the Siberian Steppe. He is with his 5-year-old son, Sky, teaching him to hunt. They have trapped a wolf, but Sky refuses to kill it. He is “struck by the magnificence of the young wolf…the mournful look in its clear, yellow eyes.” He wants to set the wolf free and sketch it. Golden’s imaginative, vividly drawn narrative toggles between the past and present. Ruachk and his family fend off violent attacks from a variety of prehistoric predators and an especially venomous giant known as White Eye, who is part Neanderthal and part beast. Will battles modern enemies—a wife who leaves him and wants custody of the children, a university that stakes a claim to his discovery, and his own psychological demons. The central characters, especially Ruachk and Sky, are finely drawn, practically leaping off the page. And the author is meticulous in describing toolmaking, details of the extremely bloody hunts, and the ancient frozen, forbidding topography. But it is confusing that he consistently describes the trek from Siberia, across the long-since disappeared Beringia land bridge, into North America, as heading west rather than east.

An engrossing, magical, often violent, and tender tale, with one very captivating wolf.

Pub Date: July 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72836-684-5

Page Count: 462

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2020

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An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

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THE WATER DANCER

The celebrated author of Between the World and Me (2015) and We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) merges magic, adventure, and antebellum intrigue in his first novel.

In pre–Civil War Virginia, people who are white, whatever their degree of refinement, are considered “the Quality” while those who are black, whatever their degree of dignity, are regarded as “the Tasked.” Whether such euphemisms for slavery actually existed in the 19th century, they are evocatively deployed in this account of the Underground Railroad and one of its conductors: Hiram Walker, one of the Tasked who’s barely out of his teens when he’s recruited to help guide escapees from bondage in the South to freedom in the North. “Conduction” has more than one meaning for Hiram. It's also the name for a mysterious force that transports certain gifted individuals from one place to another by way of a blue light that lifts and carries them along or across bodies of water. Hiram knows he has this gift after it saves him from drowning in a carriage mishap that kills his master’s oafish son (who’s Hiram’s biological brother). Whatever the source of this power, it galvanizes Hiram to leave behind not only his chains, but also the two Tasked people he loves most: Thena, a truculent older woman who practically raised him as a surrogate mother, and Sophia, a vivacious young friend from childhood whose attempt to accompany Hiram on his escape is thwarted practically at the start when they’re caught and jailed by slave catchers. Hiram directly confronts the most pernicious abuses of slavery before he is once again conducted away from danger and into sanctuary with the Underground, whose members convey him to the freer, if funkier environs of Philadelphia, where he continues to test his power and prepare to return to Virginia to emancipate the women he left behind—and to confront the mysteries of his past. Coates’ imaginative spin on the Underground Railroad’s history is as audacious as Colson Whitehead’s, if less intensely realized. Coates’ narrative flourishes and magic-powered protagonist are reminiscent of his work on Marvel’s Black Panther superhero comic book, but even his most melodramatic effects are deepened by historical facts and contemporary urgency.

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-59059-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

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MEXICAN GOTHIC

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico.

Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family’s crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí’s help, claiming that she is “bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin,” and that High Place is “sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment.” Upon Noemí’s arrival at High Place, she’s struck by the Doyle family’s cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina’s listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven’t left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she’ll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale.

Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-62078-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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