A bumpy time-traveling tale.

READ REVIEW

ENCHANTED CASTLE ON THE RIVER

MATT'S JOURNEY

A summer camping trip takes an unexpected turn when a 14-year-old boy stumbles into a world of magic, witches, and an ancient curse in this fantasy adventure debut.

Matt’s family is used to his imagination getting him into trouble, but not even he could have dreamed up the dangers he would soon face. After convincing his parents to let him explore the campsite without his irritating, tag-along little brother, Ben, Matt finds himself following a strange doglike creature that stole his mother’s watch. A mysterious castle, a wish, a plane ride, and a short Olde English lesson later, the teenager finds himself transported to medieval Britain in the company of a group of friends who seem to recognize him as “Sir Matthew.” But this new identity comes with nightmarish news. Sir Matthew’s father, King Vincent, is on his deathbed with polio, and his younger brother, Isaiah, “is out to behead thee so that he will be next in line for the throne.” Matt must rely on these new friends to help him escape sinister Isaiah and return to the dying king’s bedside, only to be charged with a quest to face an evil magical being and break a generations-old curse. Subtract some expletives and the Olde English accents and Mennear’s story has the potential to turn into an enjoyable, plot-driven children’s fairy tale. The action doesn’t stop, even for characters who often fail to respond believably to life-threatening situations, as when Sir Matthew’s best friend, Jacob, takes a break from helping his pal run for his life to flirt with pretty maiden Tiffany. She promptly falls in love and agrees to accompany the duo on the dangerous journey. While Matt is not a particularly endearing character, he is a fully developed hero who grows by the story’s end by demonstrating some selfless courage. During his travails, he matures and feels more appreciation for his family and his little brother in particular. Still, the tale lacks the rich worldbuilding and narrative thrills that would make it compelling for a wide audience.  

A bumpy time-traveling tale.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5176-2665-5

Page Count: 162

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fierce, poetic, uncompromising.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE CITY WE BECAME

This extremely urban fantasy, a love/hate song to and rallying cry for the author’s home of New York, expands her story “The City, Born Great” (from How Long ’Til Black Future Month, 2018).

When a great city reaches the point when it's ready to come to life, it chooses a human avatar, who guides the city through its birthing and contends with an extradimensional Enemy who seeks to strike at this vulnerable moment. Now, it is New York City’s time to be born, but its avatar is too weakened by the battle to complete the process. So each of the individual boroughs instantiates its own avatar to continue the fight. Manhattan is a multiracial grad student new to the city with a secret violent past that he can no longer quite remember; Brooklyn is an African American rap star–turned–lawyer and city councilwoman; Queens is an Indian math whiz here on a visa; the Bronx is a tough Lenape woman who runs a nonprofit art center; and Staten Island is a frightened and insular Irish American woman who wants nothing to do with the other four. Can these boroughs successfully awaken and heal their primary avatar and repel the invading white tentacles of the Enemy? The novel is a bold calling out of the racial tensions dividing not only New York City, but the U.S. as a whole; it underscores that people of color are an integral part of the city’s tapestry even if some white people prefer to treat them as interlopers. It's no accident that the only white avatar is the racist woman representing Staten Island, nor that the Enemy appears as a Woman in White who employs the forces of racism and gentrification in her invasion; her true self is openly inspired by the tropes of the xenophobic author H.P. Lovecraft. Although the story is a fantasy, many aspects of the plot draw on contemporary incidents. In the real world, white people don’t need a nudge from an eldritch abomination to call down a violent police reaction on people of color innocently conducting their daily lives, and just as in the book, third parties are fraudulently transferring property deeds from African American homeowners in Brooklyn, and gentrification forces out the people who made the neighborhood attractive in the first place. In the face of these behaviors, whataboutism, #BothSides, and #NotAllWhitePeople are feeble arguments.

Fierce, poetic, uncompromising.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-50984-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more