A solid adventure with a determined heroine.

THE MEMORY WITCH

From the The Chronicles of Cloth and Crystal series , Vol. 1

A teenage girl who has magical powers that affect recollections sets out to avenge her family in this fantasy series opener.

When Elan Montescue was 6 years old, her family’s villa was burned and her father and brother murdered. Thanks to her loyal tutor, Gregor, Elan escaped, fleeing to an ancient Keep in the mountains. The girl vowed revenge, using her powers as a “memory witch.” By using crystals and pieces of cloth to focus her abilities, Elan can gather memories from people and also force them to remember what they’d prefer to forget. The day after her 16th birthday, she leaves the safety of the Keep to hunt down and kill the men who destroyed her family. She ventures out into Riege, where the political situation is precarious. The elderly king is growing weak, opening a power vacuum that the Order, a religious group, is ruthlessly maneuvering to fill while the Karators—red-skinned foreigners said to be savage—are restless. As she searches, Elan faces enormous danger on several sides. But she may be able to connect with the “Anaiah,” a boy her age who’s a perfect match; this human crystal grants a memory witch extraordinary power. And some in Riege stand against the Order. Can Elan gather these strengths to work her retribution? Though there are familiar elements to this coming-of-age quest tale, Dillon (Mr. Kunz, 2018, etc.) conjures up an original take with the cloth-and-crystal-magic theme. Crystals are the more traditional magical item; but as Elan uses the cloth, it becomes clearer how certain colors, weaves, and other particularities relate well to the differing textures of memory. The author also nicely integrates a romantic plot, when Elan meets her Anaiah—whose first touch causes literal sparks—with several mysteries, both political (What has the Order been up to? What do the Karators intend?) and personal (what has become of Elan’s mother, Catherine, who left her when she was very young, and why did she depart?). While Book One comes to a satisfactory conclusion, the groundwork is set for future volumes in the series.

A solid adventure with a determined heroine.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-578-40450-9

Page Count: 360

Publisher: RJA Enterprises

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2018

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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