An action-packed conclusion to a sci-fi series that mostly satisfies.




A struggle to defeat a power-mad clan leader and his sinister brother reaches the crisis point across three worlds in this final installment of The Weir Chronicles.

Earth’s counterpart, the parallel world of Thrae, has had its core almost entirely drained by Duach leader Aeros and his Pur brother, the Primary. Wracked by earthquakes and volcanoes, Thrae is running out of time. It’s up to the three Heirs—Earth-dwelling Ian Black, Thrae’s Jaered, and Patrick Langtree, the son of a Duach rebel leader—to work together to save Earth from the same fate. Patrick has only just learned that he is a Weir, a steward of the Earth who wields magical powers. The three Heirs are not alone: Their formidable mothers, Gwynn, Sophenna, and Eve, are on their side, along with Rayne Bevan, a potent Weir (and Ian’s star-crossed girlfriend). Rayne is able to drain the magical core of any Weir who touches her. While Ian and Rayne return to Thrae to evacuate the population—and ask the planet’s most fearsome creatures for aid—Patrick and Jaered scheme to steal the Primary’s hoard of wealth, suspecting he’s trying to smuggle it from Earth to a third parallel world, Smara, to start over again in style. As if that’s not enough, they realize that to truly defeat Aeros and the Primary, they must break the Curse that keeps their followers, the Pur and the Duach, apart—but how? Duff’s (Off Beat: Nine Spins on Song, 2017, etc.) sci-fi series has gotten better with every book, and that’s true in this fifth volume, too—she jumps right into the action with a fast-paced escape and rarely lets up. Her characters trot across three globes, with the scenery changing from Paris to Brazil, from the North Pole to the Bermuda Triangle. And she writes intense, propulsive fight scenes—there’s an unforgettable image in the climax of a dragon versus a squadron of fighter jets. The stakes are sky high, with planets in the balance, but there are smaller stories too, like Ian and Rayne’s romance, stymied from the start by their inability to touch without her sapping his powers. Duff ties these tales up neatly as well. But it’s unfortunate that her female characters get short shrift in the end.

An action-packed conclusion to a sci-fi series that mostly satisfies.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9970156-8-3

Page Count: 249

Publisher: CrossWinds Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2018

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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