WIZRD

First novel, filled with slow-building horror set in Arizona. A once booming center for gold mining, the ghost town of Pinon Rim, whose population a century ago faded overnight, has been reinvigorated by an arts colony. Among the newcomers to the colony are 14-year-old Bryce Willems, who lives with his painter father Trevor, Bryce's new stepmother, Cathleen, and his younger stepsister, Megan, whose poor eyes demand that she wear one black lens. Odd things suddenly are happening in Pinon Rim. A dog goes mad and makes a graveyard for dozens of small, bloody animals in its owner's front yard, and the owner also goes mad and tries to shoot the sheriff. But—is the dog mad or merely a stuffed, dead thing its owner only thinks is marauding? A ten-year-old Navajo boy is found drowned in the nearby creek, apparently having been caught in a flash flood on the reservation and then floated five miles to Pinon Rim. And at a place where no birds sing Meg has discovered a lost entrance to the WiZrd mine—a cave to which she takes Bryce for a rather creepy inspection. Meanwhile, a ghost child only Megan can see hangs around the schoolyard imploringly, and at times she has to cut her way through menacing older kids with an eight-inch knifeblade. It seems that a century ago all the children in Pinon Rim died, perhaps of diphtheria. Bryce in the meantime falls for Connie Bowman, whose family has a ghastly local history. Slowly, in fact, the town from a century ago comes to life, and Rose Bowman is again burned alive as a pariah and scapegoat. At the same time, an ancient blue-and-white force from the cave—the Wizard!—invades the living, and even Megan, Cathleen, and Trevor—like the mad dog- -are sucked empty by it. WELCOME TO HELL a torn banner cries on Front Street.... We've met this force before, but Zell's western motif adds freshness.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-10577-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1993

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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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