An ambitious, if somewhat overstuffed, beginning to a fantasy series.

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Illusion

From the Through the Never Series series , Vol. 1

In this fantasy novel spanning countries and centuries, an archaeologist and a duchess discover that they’re the reincarnations of Adam and Eve—and the world’s only hope in the battle against an ancient evil.

A trip to Bolivia to seek out some ancient relics changes the life of famed, London-based archaeologist Nickolaus Piper in more ways than one. There, his beloved mentor, Tobias Alger, was murdered, but he left behind a trail of cryptic clues to explain why. As Nick tries to figure them out, a stranger bestows him with a talisman and tells him that the demons who haunt his dreams are real—and that they won’t stop torturing him until he’s destroyed. Meanwhile, Duchess Lily Drescher-DuKent is mourning the death of her mother when she, too, receives an item from a stranger in London, who warns her that demonic forces are hunting her as well. It turns out that Nick is the latest incarnation of Adam, “the Sacred Lion, God’s first son, the one prophesied to unite angels and Man with their Creator and Benefactor.” According to an ancient scroll that Nick finds in Bolivia, he must destroy his ex-wife (and minion of Satan), Lilith. As the reincarnation of Eve, Lily must help Nick fulfill his destiny, as the fate of heaven and Earth depends on it. Debut author Newman has filled her story with more action than most entire series—and this is only the first volume. The most compelling parts take place in 12th-century Jerusalem with Nick and Lily’s previous incarnations;they’re packed with visual detail, including enough disturbing, violent acts and lush banquet scenes to rival George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. However, like that fantasy opus, the cavalcade of characters, and their various identities throughout the ages, is hard to follow. In addition, some scenes grow repetitive; characters’ clothes dissolve to reveal glowing symbols on their chests multiple times, for instance. Nonetheless, fans of fantasy stories with historical or religious bents will find plenty to interest them here.

An ambitious, if somewhat overstuffed, beginning to a fantasy series.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4917-8903-2

Page Count: 542

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2016

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE NIGHT CIRCUS

Self-assured, entertaining debut novel that blends genres and crosses continents in quest of magic.

The world’s not big enough for two wizards, as Tolkien taught us—even if that world is the shiny, modern one of the late 19th century, with its streetcars and electric lights and newfangled horseless carriages. Yet, as first-time novelist Morgenstern imagines it, two wizards there are, if likely possessed of more legerdemain than true conjuring powers, and these two are jealous of their turf. It stands to reason, the laws of the universe working thus, that their children would meet and, rather than continue the feud into a new generation, would instead fall in love. Call it Romeo and Juliet for the Gilded Age, save that Morgenstern has her eye on a different Shakespearean text, The Tempest; says a fellow called Prospero to young magician Celia of the name her mother gave her, “She should have named you Miranda...I suppose she was not clever enough to think of it.” Celia is clever, however, a born magician, and eventually a big hit at the Circus of Dreams, which operates, naturally, only at night and has a slightly sinister air about it. But what would you expect of a yarn one of whose chief setting-things-into-action characters is known as “the man in the grey suit”? Morgenstern treads into Harry Potter territory, but though the chief audience for both Rowling and this tale will probably comprise of teenage girls, there are only superficial genre similarities. True, Celia’s magical powers grow, and the ordinary presto-change-o stuff gains potency—and, happily, surrealistic value. Finally, though, all the magic has deadly consequence, and it is then that the tale begins to take on the contours of a dark thriller, all told in a confident voice that is often quite poetic, as when the man in the grey suit tells us, “There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.” Generous in its vision and fun to read. Likely to be a big book—and, soon, a big movie, with all the franchise trimmings.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-53463-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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