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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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