RaveThe Washington PostOne of Perry’s unique talents is his ability to tell what is essentially the same story over and over again, while continually finding ways to make it fresh and absorbing ... Perry is not a particularly colorful or flamboyant stylist. His prose is lean, clean and typically understated. Its precise, level tone and attention to detail lend his narratives a force and immediacy that compel our attention. If he has ever written a bad, dull or disappointing book, I haven’t seen it. This dark but illuminating return to his fictional roots is Perry at his representative best. It rarely gets better than that.
George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus
RaveThe Washington Post... an epic novel...that may prove to be the definitive account of the zombie apocalypse ... Romero’s heirs invited Daniel Kraus, novelist and lifelong Romero fan, to complete the project. That was a spectacularly good decision. While it is impossible to know, at all points, which writer wrote which passages, it’s clear that Kraus’s contribution was enormous, and that his own narrative decisions were made in the service of Romero’s vision ... every bit the epic Romero intended ... Despite its often grotesque violence, The Living Dead is, in the end, about something unexpected: the quality of mercy ... The Living Dead expands, clarifies and concludes a tale more than 50 years in the telling, and does so with wit, style and a deep sense of commitment to this frequently unsettling material.
RaveThe Washington Post... a wide-ranging novel filled with enough characters, incidents and alternating story lines to more than justify its exorbitant length ... Troubled Blood’s central mystery is a strong one, and watching it unfold over the course of a protracted investigation is one of the novel’s great pleasures ... The author pays as much attention to the quotidian details of her characters’ lives as she does to the drama at the novel’s heart ... Rowling’s greatest novelistic gifts are her ability to spin wild, intricate plots (witness the astrological elements of this latest book), and to create colorful, highly individual characters who come instantly alive on the page ... Controversies to the side, Rowling remains that rarest of creatures: a natural, supremely confident storyteller.
RaveThe Washington Post[Follett\'s] re-creation of the period — the hazards, the harsh physical realities, the competing influences of politics and religion — is detailed and convincing, providing a solid underpinning to the later installments of the Kingsbridge series ... Taken both individually and together, the Kingsbridge books are as comprehensive an account of the building of a civilization — with its laws, structures, customs and beliefs — as you are likely to encounter anywhere in popular fiction. Despite their daunting length, these novels are swift, accessible and written in a clear, uncluttered prose that has a distinctly contemporary feel. At times, the prose can feel a bit too contemporary ... Mostly, though, Follett writes in a transparent style that rarely calls attention to itself, moving his outsized narratives steadily — and compulsively — forward ... Follett presents his worlds in granular detail, but the narratives never stand still. Something dramatic, appalling or enraging happens in virtually every chapter ... The result is a massive entertainment that illuminates an obscure corner of British history with intelligence and great narrative energy. The Evening and the Morning is a most welcome addition to the Kingsbridge series. I hope it won’t be the last.
Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
PositiveThe Washington PostThe book starts off as a traditional suspense novel and then takes a hard-left turn into del Toro territory ... The central aesthetic decision—merging the classical horrors of Algernon Blackwood with a distinctly contemporary narrative—is both surprising and ultimately successful. The Hollow Ones is a swift, thoroughly imagined entertainment that looks back at the genre’s past while hinting, in the final pages, of future installments to come. The possibilities are limitless.
RaveThe Washington PostMalerman balances the novel’s various elements — family drama, road novel, supernatural thriller — with skill and genuine compassion for his characters and their blighted lives. And if the final chapters, which are filled with reunions, reconciliations and sudden revelations, seem slightly rushed, that is a small flaw in an otherwise remarkable journey through an utterly compelling fictional world.
PositiveThe Washington PostMuch of Tremblay’s previous fiction has been marked by a deliberate ambiguity regarding horrific or supernatural elements, but that is not the case here. The horrors of Survivor Song are presented clearly, directly and to visceral effect. Although the novel’s seeming prescience is largely accidental, it reflects a distinct — and distinctly political — point of view. Tremblay’s world is one in which help and medical resources are \'stretched to the breaking point,\' exacerbated by \'a myopic, sluggish bureaucracy\' and a president \'woefully unprepared to make the rational, science-based decisions necessary.\' So, art and life continue to mirror one another. And horror fiction, as practiced by Malerman, Tremblay and a good many others, continues to serve as a bleak but appropriate vehicle for conveying the dangers and distortions of our increasingly incomprehensible age.
RaveThe Washington PostTurow has done his homework, and his incremental presentation of the evidence not only illuminates the legal issues involved, but it also offers a thorough, digestible account of the steps — research, development, testing — by which a newly created drug is brought to market. Turow is particularly good at integrating this arcane material into a dramatic narrative. Readers of The Last Trial will find themselves both entertained and painlessly educated ... Turow teases out these mysteries with immense skill and deliberation. The result is another intelligent page turner by an acknowledged master. Turow, though, has always been more than a popular entertainer. He is a first-rate novelist for whom the world of the courtroom — a world in which the justice done is only \'rough and approximate\' — becomes the vehicle for intense investigations into the varieties of human frailty ... No one tells this sort of story better than Turow. No one has illuminated the human side of the legal profession with such precision and care. The Last Trial is Scott Turow at his best and most ambitious. He has elevated the genre once again.
RaveThe Washington Post... contains four new, exceptionally compelling novellas that reaffirm [King\'s] mastery of the form ... the mid-length narrative suits his talents particularly well, permitting a degree of expansiveness while maintaining a controlled, disciplined approach to the material at hand. The results are stories that cover a surprising amount of emotional territory but can still be read in a sitting ... King continues to draw from a rich and varied reservoir of stories. At its best, his work remains deeply empathetic and compulsively readable. May the reservoir never run dry.
George R. R. Martin
RaveThe Washington PostA Dance With Dragons brings back several prominent figures who have not been seen directly since A Storm of Swords appeared in 2000. The most welcome of these is Tyrion Lannister, the sardonic dwarf who is perhaps Martin’s most vivid creation ... Any player, however important, can be removed from the board at any moment. This simple fact lends a welcome sense of uncertainty to the proceedings and helps keep the level of suspense consistently high throughout. Filled with vividly rendered set pieces, unexpected turnings, assorted cliffhangers and moments of appalling cruelty, A Dance With Dragons is epic fantasy as it should be written: passionate, compelling, convincingly detailed and thoroughly imagined. Despite a number of overtly fantastic elements (dragons, seers, shape shifters and sorcerers), the book—and the series as a whole—feels grounded in the brutal reality of medieval times and has more in common with the Wars of the Roses than it does with The Lord of the Rings. The result is a complex summer blockbuster with brains and heart, a book with rare—and potentially enormous—appeal.
PositiveThe Washington PostSeveral of the stories gathered here read like thought experiments given fictional form ... The remaining stories are largely free of genre trappings, and these are among the most resonant in the book ... The oldest and longest story, \'The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines,\' is one of Crowley’s most accomplished fictions. Beginning at an imagined Shakespeare festival in Indiana in the 1950s, the story moves forward across decades, encompassing a variety of themes and subjects: love of theater, the Francis Bacon controversy, adolescent sexuality and the unexpected durability of young love...\'The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines\' is not quite like anything you have ever read, a sentiment that applies to so much of Crowley’s work. And Go Like This is a distinguished, eclectic collection that deserves a large, appreciative audience. I hope it finds one.
RaveThe Washington Post... an all-out, not-for-the-fainthearted horror novel, one of the most effective and ambitious of recent years. Who would have guessed? ... To be sure, the underlying sensibility that characterized Wallflower is present in the new book, particularly in its empathetic portraits of people struggling to recover from personal tragedy. Beyond that, Imaginary Friend is a radical departure on virtually every level. Perhaps its most impressive aspect is the confidence with which Chbosky deploys the more fantastical elements of his complex narrative, using the baroque, hallucinatory imagery of horror fiction to tell a very human story with universal implications ... a book with many things on its mind. It is, of course, a horror novel, and it delivers more than its share of profoundly disturbing moments. Beyond that, it provides a compelling portrait of small-town life, while examining the ways in which lovelessness and systematic abuse eat away at the fabric of family and community life. At the same time, through its portrayal of the relationship between Christopher and his ferociously protective mother, it offers one of the most affecting accounts of parental devotion I’ve seen in a very long time. The result is a page-turning meditation on human suffering whose spiritual dimension does not become fully apparent until the entire story has been told. Imaginary Friend may have been a long time coming, but the time was well spent. This is an absorbing, original and genuinely surprising novel. I hope we don’t have to wait 20 more years to see where Chbosky goes next.
RaveThe Washington PostEllroy handles the criminal elements with flair and shows an impressive grasp of the investigatory and forensic techniques in use at that time. By the novel’s end, the interrelated mysteries have been resolved, and it’s exciting, page-turning stuff — but it’s only one aspect of a novel that has other, bigger things on its mind ... Ellroy has reached the midpoint of his most ambitious undertaking to date. The final two volumes can’t come quickly enough.
RaveThe Washington PostBoth an absorbing crime story and an in-depth exploration of grief, betrayal and corruption ... Secrets, murder, political malfeasance, sexual misconduct: These are just some of the pieces in play in this sprawling account of people trying — and usually failing — to manage their messy lives in a town struggling for economic survival. Though strictly speaking a suspense novel, Cemetery Road is, in fact, a great deal more. In the precision and power of its language and its sheer amplitude of detail, Iles’s latest calls to mind the late, great Southern novelist Pat Conroy. Like Conroy, Iles writes with passion, intensity and an absolute commitment to the material at hand. The success of his recent Natchez Burning trilogy was clearly no fluke. Greg Iles is back and at the top of his game. He couldn’t be more welcome.
RaveThe Washington Post\"The Border is a furious, impassioned novel that directs its anger at a wide assortment of targets. Some of the angriest (and probably most controversial) moments come through Winslow’s scathing account of the 2016 presidential election ... The resulting portrait of greed and influence peddling at the highest levels of government lends an extra layer of outrage to an already white-hot narrative ... The Border guides us through a savage, wholly believable world. The result is a powerful — and painful — journey through a contemporary version of hell. Rarely has hell been so compelling.\
RaveThe Washington PostLou Berney’s November Road is the latest novel to explore this explosive material, and the result is one of the most distinctive, unexpected crime novels of recent years ... November Road is his first attempt at historical fiction, and it is impressive ... a road novel and a first-rate thriller ... a quietly moving evocation of public and private trauma, of individuals searching for new lives in a radically altered world. This is Berney’s best book to date.
PositiveThe Washington PostBad Man is an atmospheric and unsettling novel, but not a perfect one. The plot, seen largely through Ben’s limited point of view, can be murky and difficult to follow ... Certain elements...are insufficiently developed. Yet the book works ... his ability to convey the grief, guilt and sense of loss that fuel Ben’s fixation gives the book a resonant emotional center ... It will be interesting and instructive to see what dark places he takes us to next.
PositiveThe Washington PostHush Arbor truly is a haunted place, and the origins of that haunting go back to the days of the African slave trade. Hart skillfully weaves that history into the primary story. Set pieces recounting some of the region’s more horrific encounters are among the highlights of an engrossing, cumulatively disturbing narrative that encompasses murder, madness, magic, betrayal and obsessive, undying love. The result is unlike anything Hart has done before. The intertwining narratives involving John Merrimon, the Freemantles and their quest to possess the land and its secrets are consistently compelling, but Hart’s central achievement is his vivid, hallucinatory portrait of Hush Arbor itself ... With its supernatural overtones and blurring of genre boundaries, The Hush may well seem like an anomaly. Regardless, readers should happily follow along into its hypnotic world.
PositiveThe Washington Post...in many respects, a different sort of book, but it, too, depends on King’s typically unerring sense of character for its deepest effects. The narrator is Devin Jones, a 60-something writer looking back on the summer of 1973, when he was 21 years old ... Within that Bradbury-like setting, King has created a moving, immensely appealing coming-of-age tale that encompasses restless ghosts, serial murder, psychic phenomena and sexual initiation ...quotidian details pervade the narrative, providing a solid foundation for the dramatic, sometimes otherworldly events ...opens up this world and gives it a tangible reality. The resulting portrait of Joyland in action is absorbing enough, all by itself, to sustain a full-length narrative. This, however, is a Stephen King novel, and so a darker, more menacing reality eventually asserts itself ... The melodramatic aspects of the story are great fun, but the real strength of Joyland stems from King’s ability to connect with his characters directly and viscerally.
RaveThe Washington PostWhile the first two volumes dealt with ambitious building projects — the cathedral in Pillars of the Earth, a bridge and hospital in World Without End — the new book proceeds from a more abstract premise: the radical notion of religious tolerance ... Follett moves these characters briskly along through 50 eventful years encompassing births, deaths, marriages, murders and assorted betrayals. But the real spine of the narrative is the deeply researched historical backdrop against which these private dramas play out. History has provided Follett with some spectacular dramatic moments, and he takes full advantage, recreating them with a historian’s eye for detail and a novelist’s gift for narrative suspense ... Like its predecessors in the Kingsbridge series, A Column of Fire is absorbing, painlessly educational and a great deal of fun.
PositiveThe Philadelphia InquirerA Column of Fire is set in Elizabethan England. It ranges well beyond Kingsbridge into the wider world of a divided Europe, propelling a large cast of characters through England, Scotland, France, Spain, and the Netherlands ...the new book proceeds from a more abstract premise: the radical notion of religious tolerance ... Follett moves these characters briskly through 50 eventful years of births, deaths, marriages, murders, and assorted betrayals. But the real spine of the narrative is the deeply researched historical backdrop against which these private dramas play out ...a historian's eye for detail and a novelist's gift for suspense...absorbing, painlessly educational, and a great deal of fun. Follett uses the tools of popular fiction to great effect, illuminating a nation's gradual progress toward modernity.
RaveThe Washington PostHill’s NOS4A2 is the kind of big, wide-ranging horror novel that will inevitably evoke comparisons to Stephen King’s work. That, it seems to me, is less the result of direct literary influence than of a shared sensibility and a common belief that horror fiction, properly utilized, can take a reader anywhere. NOS4A2 is horror fiction at its most ambitious, and it goes to some very strange places indeed … A road novel, a horror novel and — most centrally — a novel of character, NOS4A2 is a substantial accomplishment, and it marks Hill as a major force — perhaps the major force — among the younger generation of horror writers. Like the best of its dark breed, it offers visceral narrative pleasures while never losing sight of the human element that lies just below the extravagantly imagined surface.
RaveThe Washington PostWinter of the World, the equally massive second volume of the trilogy, opens in the critical year of 1933. Against the backdrop of a worldwide Depression that has resulted in widespread unemployment, Hitler and his party assume complete control over Germany ...dramatizes the major ideological conflicts that marked the first half of a turbulent century, moving from Germany under the Third Reich to the battlegrounds of the Spanish Civil War to the Russia of Joseph Stalin...the real centerpiece of the narrative, a sustained sequence that occupies fully two-thirds of its considerable length, is Follett’s chronological, highly selective re-creation of World War II ... In several sections of the novel, Follett returns to his roots as a thriller writer, focusing on the role that espionage played in the conduct of the war ... Follett’s real gifts are those of a natural storyteller.
RaveThe Washington Post...an immense, brooding crime novel rooted in the tragic racial history of the American South ... surely one of the longest, most successfully sustained works of popular fiction in recent memory. Make no mistake, these three volumes constitute a single story, a vast, intimate epic that must be read in sequence and in full. And if the prospect of committing to a narrative spanning 2,300 pages seems daunting, prepare to be surprised ... Few novelists have conveyed so viscerally the incomprehensible cruelty to which victims of white supremacists were subjected for so long. Few have so convincingly explored the atavistic impulses that underlie racial violence ... the capstone to what could legitimately be called a magnum opus.