A delightfully rewarding novel illuminated by history.


In Williams’ paranormal novel, the spirits of a historic church inspire a young lawyer to accept the loss of her parents.

Twenty-six-year-old Seattle native Emily Reed is as guarded as she is intelligent. Her parents died in a car accident 10 years ago, but instead of grieving, she coped by excelling academically. After graduating from law school, Emily was recruited by a firm representing a church in a dispute regarding its landmark designation. Her first assignment is to organize the church’s archives, and she’s surprised to learn that the church is where her parents wed. Ryan, Emily’s boyfriend, joins her guardians in urging her to seek counseling and let herself grieve, but she refuses. At the church, Emily discovers diaries dating back to 1915 and becomes immersed in the life of Elizabet Thomas, a socialite and philanthropist. Unbeknownst to Emily, the spirits of Elizabet and her friend Dorothea, an eccentric madame, are watching her and even meddling in her life. Ever since the passing of Elizabet’s husband in 1922, she’s never stopped grieving—even in the afterlife. The novel is a well-crafted cautionary tale—against self-pity, in Elizabet’s case, and pride, in Emily’s. Williams achieves a striking narrative symmetry, not unlike the architecture of the church that she beautifully describes; each element of the sanctuary seems to have a story to tell: “The pipe organ stands proud and tall on the upper balcony, like a soldier standing at attention, waiting patiently for someone to spur it to life.” Some readers may object to the story’s ending, which is perhaps overly tidy and sentimental. That said, there’s much to celebrate in this book, including its memorable depiction of courage: “You must only be brave for one moment at a time.”

A delightfully rewarding novel illuminated by history.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-989144-12-1

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Rippling Effects

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.


In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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