A promising first installment in a strange blend of theological horror.


The Key

From the The Incarnations of Joe series , Vol. 1

An intriguing supernatural tale in which a young man uncovers a hidden truth about his heritage.

At the start of Weatherall’s tense and atmospheric debut, the first in a projected series, the Magister family—17-year-old Joe; his mother, Madeline; and his loutish, alcoholic stepfather, Will—are driving through a snowstorm in Ontario’s remote Nahanni Valley when they accidentally hit a wolf on the road. The year is 1960, long before GPS or cellphones, and Joe’s stepfather drives off from the impact without a second thought. Joe, however, agonizes at the thought of the wounded animal out there in the dark. He slips away from home late that night intent on finding the wolf—and finding in the process much more than he expected. When he finally stumbles back home, he’s changed—immune to cold, tireless, and preternaturally perceptive. In subsequent days, he encounters a mysterious woman named Tereene who unfolds to him not only his true nature, but also the supernatural underpinnings of reality itself, in which, she explains, souls get stronger as they age and feed on emotions, eventually becoming powerful, angel-like beings, but even so, as his own personal transformation continues, Joe wonders if he’s given his soul to the devil. Weatherall manipulates the many moving parts of this new cosmology with skill and economy. His simply evil characters tend to feel a bit pat, and Joe’s journey from innocent youth to otherworldly warrior is one readers of horror fantasy have seen many times before. But the tale is told with vigor and conviction nonetheless. The novel’s spiritual world—where traditional notions of good and evil are richly confused and complicated—is one the reader must navigate right alongside Joe.

A promising first installment in a strange blend of theological horror.

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-46-026629-8

Page Count: 264

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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