Complex and well-drawn characters round out a creative and horrifying fantasy.

SON OF THE SERPENT

From the Fantasy Angels series , Vol. 2

A son born of evil seeks his revenge in this sequel.

Quiroz-Vega’s (The Fall of Lilith, 2017, etc.) second installment of the Fantasy Angels series is just as dark, fantastical, and sweeping as its predecessor. But this time, the story focuses on Lilith and her son, Dracúl. Though Lilith believes she successfully murdered Dracúl, he is alive and bent on retribution. Meanwhile, Lilith seeks her promised mate, one who is her equal and will give her other powerful offspring. Thus begins an epic odyssey spanning generations and continents. Lilith thrives on creating pain and suffering, and Dracúl must only follow the trail of human misery to find her. While Lilith is pure evil, Dracúl is a much more complicated and nuanced character. He’s misunderstood, lonely, and feared. Though his natural form resembles a demon and he must consume blood to survive, Dracúl is not a monster. His interactions with humans clearly demonstrate that he is capable of empathy and love. As Lilith and Dracúl pursue their quests, the author walks readers through the familiar stories of the Old Testament. Dracúl is present when Cain murders Abel. He seeks shelter among the beasts on Noah’s Ark and witnesses the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah. And in this volume, all these terrible events are triggered by Lilith’s pure malevolence. Quiroz-Vega deftly spins a fantasy that puts a new and intriguing twist on age-old biblical tales. It’s a fun revision, with Dracúl popping in to rescue the baby Moses and Lilith overseeing the construction of the Tower of Babel. This Creation story, which incorporates so many fantasy elements, also crosses over into horror. The author doesn’t shy away from detailing terrible acts of violence. She vividly describes Egyptian soldiers murdering infants, memorably portraying the “myriad of dead and mangled babies” who “floated downstream on the Nile.” Familiarity has softened some of the horrors described in biblical stories, but Quiroz-Vega doesn’t hesitate to bring the intrinsic brutality to the forefront.

Complex and well-drawn characters round out a creative and horrifying fantasy.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947475-03-8

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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