Overlong and unengaging.



After joining with a man who can kill with his mind, a 13-year-old telepathic girl learns many secrets in this paranormal novel.

In an unknown coastal town, locals grow up with the legend of notorious murderer Lord Talson, known for his bright yellow eyes, his ability to kill with his mind alone, and his cruelty. He’s based in a massive offshore building that’s “the headquarters of a very powerful and secret society of organized crime” called the Silver Shadows, which keeps tabs on the Thomason family, especially their daughter, Katerina Alicia. At 13, Kat is troubled by dreams of yellow eyes and people screaming in pain. Her father explains that when she was a baby, Lord Talson attacked them both but failed to kill them for unknown reasons and has been lying low ever since. Nevertheless, when Kat receives an invitation to visit him, she accepts. Talson explains that not only doesn’t he want to murder her, he’d like to teach her about her power to connect with and influence another’s thoughts. He also offers her a position among the Silver Shadows. Powerfully curious, Kat joins them, setting her at odds with her father. As Kat learns more about her abilities, repercussions emerge from years-ago events in the Sharktooth Bar, a fishermen’s haunt where a Silver Shadow was killed and another imprisoned for illegal gambling; related to this, Kat’s best friend’s father was killed by Talson. Slowly, more truths emerge about Talson’s and the Silver Shadows’ origins as well as the complicated nature of Talson’s powers, building to a dangerous confrontation in which Kat will have to make some difficult choices affecting many others. In her foreword, debut author Torgersen explains that she began this novel at 16 “with no research, no plan, and no idea of where my plot was headed,” finishing when she was 20. Not unexpectedly, the book betrays the writer’s inexperience and lack of control. It’s often repetitious and clumsy; for example, “ ‘What happened?’ asked Kat, wondering what other strange things might have happened.” There’s an ongoing and unfruitful obsession with how old characters seem to be: Remi Nelson “was thirty-five, but looked forty-five, at best”; John Carl “was thirty-three [but] looked older”; though Kat “thought Talson was much older than thirty-nine…now she thought he looked younger,” and so on. The crime organization is dramatic but not well thought out. For example, Talson’s ability to pay his followers depended on a now-gone gambling operation, so how does he now stay afloat? And why should payment depend on that since Talson can so successfully manipulate minds? Talson’s pronouncements often fail to ring true, such as “anger, pain, and killing” being “the three most complicated things in human existence.” The book’s ideas about mind control are complex but uninteresting and fruitless to remember because Talson lies, changing the rules. In better moments, the book achieves a poignant tone of magical realism, especially in scenes from Talson’s childhood.

Overlong and unengaging.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4836-1096-2

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2018

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.


A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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