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

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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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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