The eponymous mist seems to cloud the writing, and the meandering tale ends quickly with a conclusion that still seems...

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THE MIST IN THE MIRROR

The moody countryside wanderings of an adventurer Hill (A Question of Identity, 2013, etc.) sends on a glacially paced adventure in search of the truth about his hero.

After an unconventional childhood during which he was raised in Africa by a distant guardian, Sir James Monmouth has made his life traveling the world questing for adventure. He seeks in part to travel in the footsteps of his hero, the famous (or infamous) Conrad Vane. On his arrival in England, Monmouth plans to learn the history surrounding Vane, from his early life onward. Though all those he meets try to dissuade him from this quest, citing feelings of wariness and concern for Monmouth, he soldiers on, tracking down a surprising connection between Vane’s life and his own. Once his research becomes personal, Monmouth is more determined than ever to learn about Vane’s history as well as his own. With the help and support of his new friend Lady Quincebridge, Monmouth traces his origins to the mysterious and remote Kittiscar Hall. Although Lady Quincebridge insists that Monmouth give up when the madness of researching Vane begins to infect him as an illness, Monmouth cannot rest until he understands how their lives are intertwined. His journey to Kittiscar Hall holds secrets that Monmouth had never guessed and yet always instinctively knew—and not only secrets, but danger too.

The eponymous mist seems to cloud the writing, and the meandering tale ends quickly with a conclusion that still seems obscure. Even if Monmouth doesn’t deserve the truth, doesn’t the loyal reader?

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-80667-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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