Reflective, evocative, and quietly moving.

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EDEN MINE

Hulse follows up her strong debut (Black River, 2015) with an even stronger novel about the fallout from an act of domestic terrorism.

When Josephine Faber learns that her brother, Samuel, has fled after bombing a Montana district courthouse, it caps the string of losses that have shaped her life. Her father was killed in a mine collapse when she was a baby, and an enraged ex-boyfriend shot and killed their mother when Jo was 10 and Samuel, 17; a stray bullet left Jo paralyzed. Samuel’s terrible act—12 people at a nearby storefront church were injured, and the pastor’s young daughter is in critical condition—was provoked by the impending loss of their house, about to be torn down by the state to build a new highway. Jo is horrified but not surprised; Samuel was a virulent racist in high school, and although he burned his Nazi flag and wears long-sleeved shirts over his swastika tattoo, she’s aware that his anti-government ideas remain the same. But her brother has tenderly cared for her for more than a decade, and she can’t stop loving him. The story unfolds slowly, mingling Jo’s account with Samuel’s explanatory missive to her (written on a map she will later find) and the anguished internal monologues of pastor Asa Truth, whose faith has been badly shaken by his daughter’s injuries. He won’t get any help from Jo, a confirmed nonbeliever since her mother’s death, but they form a bond forged by mutual grief; Jo’s connection to protective Sheriff Hawkins is another relationship Hulse limns with sensitive acuity. Several harrowing scenes underscore Jo’s vulnerability due to her physical disability, but she still rides a cherished mule and tends to outdoor chores thanks to the various devices Samuel has rigged. Her struggles to paint pictures more meaningful than the pretty, sanitized canvases she sells to tourists form another strand of Hulse’s dense yet lucid narrative. The nail-biting denouement is violent yet restrained, an additional sign of this young writer’s mature artistic powers.

Reflective, evocative, and quietly moving.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-14647-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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