A sardonic, down-to-earth protagonist eases readers into a world of magic.

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Lore and Order

From the Warlocks of Whitehall series , Vol. 1

In this supernatural thriller, a warlock in Britain, helping the government ensnare his own kind, may have stumbled upon a revolution in the works.

Jameson Parker’s a warlock who made it out of the Dark Times as an employee of Whitehall. The era was so named after magicians, having kept their powers hidden for centuries, suddenly became territorial and starting fighting one another. Whitehall then sought warlocks to destroy, or as in the case of Parker, make turncoats to track down others. Parker’s latest case involves finding an arsonist who’s clearly been using magic to burn down 15 buildings. Parker makes headway with a basic tracking spell, which he can only use after asking Whitehall for permission. Identifying the arsonist, however, may not answer everything. Rogue magician Kaitlyn van Ives, for one, suggests that an enigmatic figure known as The Rider is truly behind all the fires. But Kaitlyn herself may have orchestrated the scheme, regardless of her goal—somehow policing the magical underworld—that’s akin to Whitehall’s. Parker soon realizes that free magicians (warlocks not under the government’s thumb) are planning to rebel by storming and overthrowing Whitehall. And they may be looking to Parker, whose insubordination makes him “a symbol of disobedience,” as the one to champion their objective. Despite brimming with magic and magicians, the novel is closer in spirit to a hard-boiled detective story. Parker’s first-person voice, for example, is relentlessly cynical, readily admitting (quite often) that he’s a “dickhead.” It’s fitting that, for Parker and the warlocks surrounding him, the supernatural is second nature. Peacock (Ghosts on the Wind, 2015, etc.), accordingly, concentrates on mystery and intrigue, and pinpointing a villain (or villains) amid multiple double crosses is what fuels the narrative. Parker mocks his “keen detective skills,” but his willingness to employ elements of the mundane world—like, say, a gun—is what aligns him with the traditional and recognizable gumshoe character. He’s even aware of his cinematic potential, blasting AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” his literary soundtrack for an inevitable Whitehall confrontation. The author ties off the story’s biggest thread but leaves plenty for Parker to resolve in future books.

A sardonic, down-to-earth protagonist eases readers into a world of magic.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-910142-01-1

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Magister Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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