A well-written, descriptive, and dark creation story.

THE FALL OF LILITH

Fallen angels battle for survival in Quiroz-Vega’s (The Basement, 2013) fantasy novel.

In the beginning, God created angels. His companions reside in Floraison, a beautiful and joyful location in the lowest level of heaven. Though given free will, they must be obedient and remain chaste. For the angel Lilith, this is a difficult proposition. Though she longs to be first in God’s eyes, Lilith questions the rules. Her slyness and disobedience cause turmoil and division among the angels. When God sorts the angels in a hierarchy, Lilith is unhappy. When God creates humans, Lilith is enraged and jealous. She sows the seeds of an uprising, eventually seducing Lucifer and encouraging him to revolt against God. A vicious battle ends in defeat for Lilith, Lucifer, and their allies. They are cast out of Floraison and banished to Earth, changed in form and ability. Some are given monsterlike characteristics, including Lilith, who is now half serpent. Lucifer becomes Satan, complete with red visage and spiky horns. The fallen angels struggle to find each other and battle to survive on the alien planet. They are vulnerable and able to be wounded by elements in their ecosystem. Though the angels can now enjoy pleasures of the flesh, it’s often violent and painful, especially for Lilith. Rather than experience heaven on Earth, the fallen angels lie, deceive, and suffer. Lilith craves revenge upon God, the angels, humans, and ultimately Satan himself. Quiroz-Vega offers a dark creation tale, a prologue of sorts to Adam and Eve. It’s a compelling narrative that provides background on several well-known, supernatural figures. Though obviously religious in nature, Quiroz-Vega’s book strays far from traditional biblical text. Sea monsters, mermaids, and vampires share the stage with angels and demons. And illicit (and explicit) affairs, violent battles, and graphic injuries abound. Quiroz-Vega’s prose is incredibly descriptive. The fallen angels, including a transformed Beelzebub, whose “arms and legs appeared gelatinous, punctuated by lumps of broken and calcified bone,” are painted with horrifying clarity.

A well-written, descriptive, and dark creation story.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 527

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Whitehead continues the African-American artists' inquiry into race mythology and history with rousing audacity and...

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THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

What if the metaphorical Underground Railroad had been an actual…underground railroad, complete with steam locomotive pulling a “dilapidated box car” along a subterranean nexus of steel tracks?

For roughly its first 60 pages, this novel behaves like a prelude to a slave narrative which is, at once, more jolting and sepulchral than the classic firsthand accounts of William Wells Brown and Solomon Northup. Its protagonist, Cora, is among several African-American men and women enslaved on a Georgia plantation and facing a spectrum of savage indignities to their bodies and souls. A way out materializes in the form of an educated slave named Caesar, who tells her about an underground railroad that can deliver her and others northward to freedom. So far, so familiar. But Whitehead, whose eclectic body of work encompasses novels (Zone One, 2011, etc.) playing fast and loose with “real life,” both past and present, fires his most daring change-up yet by giving the underground railroad physical form. This train conveys Cora, Caesar, and other escapees first to a South Carolina also historically unrecognizable with its skyscrapers and its seemingly, if microscopically, more liberal attitude toward black people. Compared with Georgia, though, the place seems so much easier that Cora and Caesar are tempted to remain, until more sinister plans for the ex-slaves’ destiny reveal themselves. So it’s back on the train and on to several more stops: in North Carolina, where they’ve not only abolished slavery, but are intent on abolishing black people, too; through a barren, more forbidding Tennessee; on to a (seemingly) more hospitable Indiana, and restlessly onward. With each stop, a slave catcher named Ridgeway, dispensing long-winded rationales for his wicked calling, doggedly pursues Cora and her diminishing company of refugees. And with every change of venue, Cora discovers anew that “freedom was a thing that shifted as you looked at it, the way a forest is dense with trees up close but from outside, the empty meadow, you see its true limits.” Imagine a runaway slave novel written with Joseph Heller’s deadpan voice leasing both Frederick Douglass’ grim realities and H.P. Lovecraft’s rococo fantasies…and that’s when you begin to understand how startlingly original this book is.

Whitehead continues the African-American artists' inquiry into race mythology and history with rousing audacity and razor-sharp ingenuity; he is now assuredly a writer of the first rank.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-53703-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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