If Moore can find her footing then the future adventures of the Great Essex Witch Museum should make for prime...

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STRANGE MAGIC

A feisty Essex woman inherits a witch museum and is pulled into a hunt for the remains of an accused witch.

The Great Essex Witch Museum is a bit ramshackle and a lot hokey. So when Rosie Strange inherits it from her grandfather Septimus, she immediately decides to sell it and continue on with her perfectly contented existence as a Benefit Fraud investigator and a lover of a good hair products. But when she makes her first visit to the museum and meets the curator, Sam Stone, she is intrigued not only by him, but by the history of witchcraft in Essex, where more alleged witches were hung than anywhere else in England or America. On Rosie’s first day as the new museum owner, she and Sam are approached by a local professor who asks them to find the remains of one of Essex’s most famous accused witches. More than 400 years after the death of Ursula Cadence, a little boy has turned up apparently inhabited by the spirit of Cadence’s young son, who is asking for his mother. In order to save the boy, Sam and Rosie work to track down Ursula’s skeleton. While Moore (Witch Hunt, 2012, etc.) keeps the pace quick and the quips rolling, the novel struggles with an inconsistency of tone. It’s one thing to blend horror with rom-com, but it’s another to have Rosie watch a horrific video of a possessed child and then immediately have a flirty moment with Sam, “leaving [her] hot and breathy and lonesome.” Overall, though, Rosie is an unpretentious protagonist who is fun to root for as she suffers no fools.

If Moore can find her footing then the future adventures of the Great Essex Witch Museum should make for prime guilty-pleasure reading.

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78607-098-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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