The plot thickens and danger mounts in the series’ best installment thus far.

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SLEIGHT OF HAND

From the The Weir Chronicles series , Vol. 3

Revelations abound in this third volume of Duff’s (Off Beat, 2017, etc.) Weir Chronicles as erstwhile magician Ian Black learns that he may be just a pawn in someone else’s game.

Earth is in grave danger, as evil Duach leader Aeros is draining its core, causing worldwide storms and earthquakes. In his role as Pur Heir, Ian must fight these forces by drawing on his own supernatural connection to the Earth. A summons lures him to Africa, where an experiment with lightning supercharges his own “core”—the source of his powers. Then Aeros’ son Jaered, the Duach Heir, shoots him with a dart that causes his core to overheat, leaving him close to death. His only chance at survival is Rayne, the woman he loves but is unable to touch due to her unique power-draining abilities. She’s already moved out of Ian’s mansion, despairing of their relationship ever succeeding, but his friends persuade her to come back and attempt to drain his core completely, despite significant risks. Later, she travels to Thrae, the Weir’s home dimension, and is shocked to learn of the existence of another Heir from Ian’s mother, Gwynn, among other news. She and her sisters—Jaered’s mother, Sophenna, and rebel leader Eve—hatched a plan long ago to “bring down two tyrants and set our worlds back on an evolutionary track that should never have been tampered with.” Duff definitely hits her stride in this book, as several deep secrets come to light. A change of scenery to Thrae proves to be especially effective, giving the reader further insight into the Weir’s history and way of life. As Ian and Rayne’s romance takes a back seat, Rayne’s decision to attempt to heal him becomes a crucial turning point for them both. The new setting and plot developments are both surprising and compelling, and they bring fresh life to a series that had begun to run low on conflict. At the end, Duff leaves plenty of questions that readers will want to see answered in subsequent books.

The plot thickens and danger mounts in the series’ best installment thus far.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9970156-0-7

Page Count: 348

Publisher: CrossWinds Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2017

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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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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