A bold, intricate fantasy that never slows down.

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REDEMPTION'S CURE

From the Hunter's Heart series , Vol. 1

In this debut novel, a young huntress contends with child kidnappers, giant snakes, and a strange voice in her own head.

On the world of Ecalardia, 17-year-old Tiel Lambrie is the telepathic Bounty Huntress. She has just entered the Watosh Forest, full of carnivorous plants, to rescue Fallon Hanover, a reporter. She’s armed with her poisonous Hunter’s Heart blade and is joined by her friend Maestro, a fire-breathing white panther. A dangerous badoe (a mammothlike predator) is also loose, and tracks suggest Fallon didn’t wander into the forest on his own. After slaying the badoe and saving Fallon, Tiel and Maestro head back to their village. A harvest of the crop Bamboodii is in full swing, and Tiel expects a double bounty for being placed in a dodgy situation. Suddenly, a giant acodoe serpent exits the forest. Chief Del blames Tiel for rousing the creature and initiating the prophecy of the Day of Renewal, which will devastate Ecalardia. Later, once the acodoe is defeated, Tiel faces a larquetz (trial) for supposedly breaking the Prime Code of protecting innocents. With her is Aven, her mate and fellow hunter. She escapes banishment by arguing that only a deity could activate the prophecy, and prepares for a mission to save some children held in the acodoe queen’s cave. In her fantasy series opener, Neilson allows her world to grow quickly and wildly in several directions like jungle vines. Episodic narrative arcs introduce characters like Jainu, Aven and Tiel’s young apprentice, and concepts like the maicalla clasps, the position of which signifies a person’s willingness to talk. A glossary helps readers with the author’s fantasy vocabulary, yet there are words left out, such as zahule (reputation), that must be deciphered in the story. Burbling beneath themes of honor, loyalty, and democracy is the voice of an “old man” who invades the minds of others, including Tiel. The master, as some call him, plays a long game of protecting people from the desolate Arasteit, “a region of dark and cold penetrating one’s soul forever.” (“Only the master could get someone across the Arasteit when the Day of Renewal approached.”) Overall, the agile worldbuilding should attract fans of detail-rich fantasy tales, though there’s a scattershot intensity to the narrative’s unfolding.

A bold, intricate fantasy that never slows down.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73213-654-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Celestial House Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2019

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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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