A beautiful dose of carnal mayhem set in Purgatory.


From the The Divine Revolution series , Vol. 1

This debut fantasy thriller finds an assassin taken out of the killing game only to be thrust into a surreal plot to dethrone a deity.

Former Glasgow street urchin Deborah has killed 38 people at the behest of a shadowy organization called The Orchard. Her handler, Eli, now guides her toward her latest target, a man residing within a sumptuous, unguarded mansion. She makes the assassination look like an accident, giving him a lethal injection between his toes. Moments later, someone shoots Deborah in the chest, killing her. She awakes in a Spartan room, situated in what appears to be an industrial slum full of “bedraggled beggars and throngs of sad-looking civilians.” When Deborah meets the Angels Zotiel and Zephon, they tell her she’s in Purgatory. They bring her to the Archangel Raziel, who informs her that “God is gone” and His Office has been corrupted. Deborah, an atheist, must nevertheless come to grips with her otherworldly predicament. She’s recruited by the Divine Revolution to kill the New God, who has usurped the throne and stripped the angels of power. Murdering the deity, however, means first assembling a proper support team from within the vastness of Purgatory, including a tactician (“I need someone who thinks differently than I do,” Deborah says. “Someone I can work with. Who can consider the long game, while I deal with the immediate”). James aims to scandalize in his raucous novel, boasting no shortage of horrendous flashbacks to teenage Deborah’s life in her aunt’s abusive home and then on the streets of Glasgow with her young lover Mark. Readers follow the path of someone who learns that “Hitman is a very apt word,” because the “same word we use for a kill, a junkie uses for a shot.” The narrative’s parade of shocking moments (like Deborah’s first kill, using a pen on her victim’s neck) should leave fans of garish violence and spectacular action in awe. Leaving his dramatic denouement for future installments, James spends quality time introducing the characters Deborah needs for the mission—like Lena, the nurse, and Whitman, the strategist—in segments that surround a charismatic protagonist with an equally likable cast. Near the end, a ghoulish chase sequence is the cherry on top of a richly disturbing story.

A beautiful dose of carnal mayhem set in Purgatory.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5187-8716-4

Page Count: 490

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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 steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.


From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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