An unremittingly bleak, engrossing, and ferocious tale of an inevitable and potentially dangerous future.

RED UNICORN

A Vietnam veteran and an enigmatic woman hurtle toward an uncertain destiny in this dark, supernatural thriller.

Tennessee-born Amboy Stevens has made a life as a miner in Argentina. On an autumn day in 1982, he agrees to pay off a debt by helping fellow American Lettie Fennick. Lettie is a redheaded Black woman with partial amnesia and, just like Amboy, six fingers on each hand. While the Vietnam vet finds and brings Lettie to relative safety, myriad groups are apparently after her, from the CIA to a Nazi cult. Amboy is mostly in the dark; he doesn’t know what exactly the figures are chasing or if their intentions are noble or sinister. But he fights to protect Lettie as the two gradually fall for each other. They dodge gunfire, vicious torturers, and horrid, baleful creatures that appear to be made of sticks. Amboy and Lettie, desperate for answers, rush to a place where they hope to unearth the things she can’t remember. But what awaits the pair is not something Amboy likely anticipated. Ochse shrouds this novel in mystery. Notwithstanding Amboy’s distaste for “cryptic conversations,” he rarely has any other kind, as characters’ agendas are either vague or unknown. A rich atmosphere nevertheless permeates the story; everywhere Amboy and Lettie go seems treacherous and rife with untrustworthy people—dangers that some try to warn the vet about. The couple’s growing romance is convincing, while the engaging tale intermittently dives into Amboy’s past, some of which has curious ties to the present day. Short bursts of action, such as Amboy speeding down the road on a commandeered motorcycle, keep the story moving at a steady clip. And readers finally get some answers in the searing climax as Amboy and Lettie face their shocking fates.

An unremittingly bleak, engrossing, and ferocious tale of an inevitable and potentially dangerous future.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Aethon Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2022

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A moody tone hangs like a cloud over the alarming but vague danger awaiting the world.

THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD

A tragedy has sent a young artist into seclusion. A potential apocalypse may be enough to bring her back.

For the past two years, 10 months, and 18 days, Katie’s lived in darkness, on retreat from her former life as a rising artist after a personal tragedy eclipsed any happiness she believed possible. Jacob’s Ladder, a remote island named by a former resident for its potential as a stairway to heaven, offers Katie the chance to hide from the rest of the world, merely existing, not healing. She lives each day trying to fulfill what she’s called “the Promise” to those in the life she once knew, though a promise of what is not clear. The closest neighboring islands, Oak Haven and Ringrock, are equally cloistered. Though Katie’s realtor has suggested that Ringrock is some sort of Environmental Protection Agency research station, Katie’s cynicism makes her suspect something more nefarious. The protagonist's remote world and the author’s moody writing are disrupted one night by the startling appearance of drones and the suspicious behavior of a fox Katie’s dubbed Michael J. The wary canine serves as a harbinger of potential danger, and Katie responds by arming herself to the hilt when unexpected guests descend on Jacob’s Ladder. While the true purpose of these visitors is unclear, Katie senses that the greater world is at the precipice of permanent collapse and that she may be the only one who can prevent the impending apocalypse.

A moody tone hangs like a cloud over the alarming but vague danger awaiting the world.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-6625-0044-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

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FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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