Lyrical, ghastly, first-class horror.


Who’d want to miss a rat-ridden backwater southern swamp novel with triplets joined at the frontal lobe to one massive ten-pound brain, each brother with his own identity and yet using the one brain to carry on psychic spitspat with each other?

Three throats, three bodies to be fed, but only one voice, with each triplet speaking one syllable or word at a time: malicious Sebastian, regretful Jonah, and lovewild Cole, who nonetheless at times speaks hideously. Dodi Coots, daughter of conjure woman Velma Coots, has been traded to the family in return for older brother Thomas’s digging screwworms out of the ears of Velma’s cows. Dodi sleeps at the foot of the triplets’ bed and cares for their bedpans and other needs—all rather Faulknerian? Caretaker Thomas tells their story. The triplets and Thomas own The Mill and are the richest folks in Pott County’s Kingdom Come, where they’re cursed and revered; however, their father suicided into The Mill’s machinery—or did he?—rather than face life in their “gorgeous antediluvian mansion,” as it’s described by Sarah, a young filmmaker making a student production about the triplets with her cameraman Fred. In the eyes of God, Thomas was truly married to Maggie, with whom he has never shared a kiss, at age nine, by Drabs Bibbler, a black boy now Thomas’s best friend. Drabs has the gift and epileptic curse of tongues, which always comes over him after twenty minutes with Thomas. Drabs, now 29 with five bastard kids, walks around naked and loves Maggie, while Jonah loves Sarah. And you won’t want to miss the flaming silver dead kid who walks around with skimmer dragonflies and mosquitoes on his eyes and mouth. Or the attic, always a nice place for the dead to snooze. You’ll want to know where the brothers’ lost mother is—and it’ll remind you of “A Rose for Emily.”

Lyrical, ghastly, first-class horror.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 1-892389-58-4

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Night Shade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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