The author of Lord of the Dead (1995), the story of the wildly bipolar Lord Byron becoming ruler of the planet's vampires at age 19, returns with a sequel and a fresh look at London's bloodsuckers. The story opens as a satirically rip-roaring 19th-century boy's adventure modeled on Gunga Din. A small group of ramrod British soldiers attack a temple of Kali high up in the Himalayas, only to find themselves facing Russian zombie/vampires enthralled by the goddess of destruction-and-bloodlust: She takes the form of a ravishingly beautiful vision of sexual horror named Lilah, who later turns up in London. The very amusing first 70 pages—as stiff-lipped British noncoms battle flesh-eating ghouls, and as Dr. John Eliot, also in India, investigates a horrible infection that melts brains and wastes the body, as well as a princely fortune that suddenly vanishes—are worth the ticket price. Eliot's research eventually sets him on Lilah's trail. Back in London, he's joined by theater manager Bram Stoker, who has not yet written Dracula but becomes knowledgeable about vampires while playing muddle-brow Watson to Eliot's Holmes. Eliot is enjoined by a young actress, Miss Lucy Ruthven, to look into her brother Arthur's murder and the disappearance of her guardian, Sir George Mowberley. The two men had been heading a parliamentary bill that would have a major impact on India. Trailing the lost jewels of Kalikshutra at last leads Eliot to Lilah and to a ghastly facedown with this supremely corrupted immortal who bathes in blood in a golden tub. Then come the real surprises—and Byron's return. The Victorian voice used throughout may have been fun to mimic, but Holland's own voice would have given him more intensity. Even Dracula's epistolary style can stultify.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-671-54052-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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