A cyclone of nonstop action-adventure with enough swordplay and bodice-ripping to recall the Errol Flynn swashbuckler pirate...

THE TIGER'S PREY

Turning the time machine back to the 17th century, Smith (War Cry, 2017, etc.) shifts the Courtney family saga to Tom Courtney’s battles with the British East India Company.

Tom is persona non grata in England, suspected of murdering his brother Black Billy, but he's done well in exile. Currently he’s trading along the East African coast. It’s perilous, though. Tom must avoid the East India Company, which enforces its monopoly with its own military. There are also dread pirates. In fact, a recent confrontation cost Tom his ship. Now he’s retreated to Cape Town to outfit a new ship, Kestrel. With his brother Dorian and their wives aboard, the Kestrel’s fleet enough to slip into the East India Company’s rich territory. All goes well until a monsoon tosses Tom’s crew into the clutches of a vicious jungle queen. This time he loses Neptune, a sword presented to an ancestor by Sir Francis Drake. Along the way, Tom has discovered two long-lost nephews, one of whom goes rogue while the other joins Tom. Characters other than never-say-die Tom are realistic; but some interesting characters are introduced and immediately disappear. Skimming the surface rather than probing its depth, the story is all sails, swordplay, and sinister betrayal. Descriptions are spare yet proficient: ashore it's mostly monsoon, beastly heat, or cutthroat sultans atop war elephants while aboard ship, sailor-speak livens up the thoroughly cinematic battle scenes. There’s some PG-rated sex, while the fight scenes include multiple dismemberments and a cringe-inspiring method of execution that will become the stuff of nightmares.

A cyclone of nonstop action-adventure with enough swordplay and bodice-ripping to recall the Errol Flynn swashbuckler pirate movies of old.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-227650-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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