RaveBooklistFirst-novelist James combines evangelical ideas about spiritual warfare with the folk traditions of voodoo and magic, producing a transfixing blend of horror and metaphor that echoes Austin Clark’s Barbados tales. The result is a mesmerizing treatise on the nature of good and evil, faith and madness, guilt and forgiveness, eloquently captured in a microcosm of society.
PositiveBooklistDespite the novel’s patently improbable plot, Flavia’s over-the-top use of alliteration...and proudly precocious, sesquipedalian vocabulary...along with the thoroughly endearing cast of characters, make this series’ tenth installment a laugh-out-loud winner. Fans of the brainy Flavia, who \'dotes on death,\' will also enjoy the precocious child narrators and mysterious, twisty plots that abound in Annie Hartnett’s Rabbit Cake (2017) and Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012).
PositiveBooklistEvokes the darkness of both winter and spirit with stark yet lovely imagery ... this compulsively readable portrait of doubt and faith reveals, in small lives, humanity’s biggest questions.
RaveBooklistPlot strands tangle and threaten to unravel in this thirteenth episode of the Lady Emily Ashton and Colin Hargreaves series. But readers are in the author’s trustworthy hands, and the working out of the puzzle will delight mystery and history buffs alike.
PositiveBooklistThis historical family saga, first of a planned trilogy, invites inevitable comparison with Leon Uris’ Exodus, the action picking up in 1950, directly after the historical events Uris depicts. Fletcher, however, focuses more on characters than on Israel’s history as the protagonists’ personal perspectives bring the interwar period (between WWII and the Six-Day War) to life ... Fletcher, well known for his National Jewish Book Award–winning Walking Israel, and for his character-driven novels, knows his subject and dramatizes it to great effect.
PositiveBooklistBy personalizing key characters, the author immerses readers in a maze of labor racketeering and political and police corruption, upping the nail-biting suspense chapter by chapter ... Alternately frightful and fascinating, the story viscerally describes the era, exposing the motives and fears that drive each character and play out on the streets.
RaveBooklist\"...Stewart again portrays the uncomfortable conditions experienced by women in America in the WWI era, including sketches of women detained on morality charges in the Hackensack jail. The particularly compelling main case here—about a woman committed to an insane asylum by her husband under false pretenses— furthers this theme and forms the heart of the story ... Constance herself—a tall, plain woman with a \'man’s job\'—continues to drive the series with a no-nonsense personality that evokes a mix of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell and Lawrence H. Levy’s Mary Handley. This entry is more suspenseful than its predecessors and boasts a deeper emphasis on character, politics, and social issues. A must for Constance’s growing fan base.
PositiveBooklistLike the Wandering Jew, Perry’s nightmarish Melmoth ranges the earth recording horrors wrought by humankind. She watches and tracks individuals whose sins cannot be forgiven, upon whom she preys with flashes of magical realism. The nonlinear time line of historical events and the nested stories involving wide-ranging and complex characters may sometimes make readers feel uneasy or even lost. But once we gain our sea legs, this stylized, postmodern work by a masterly writer compels us to see genocide, war, deportation, and even compassionate deadly crimes through new eyes that reflect the characters’ perspectives.
PositiveBooklistBlum dramatizes the lingering effects of the war through the intertwining stories of families past and present, personalizing the themes of survivor guilt and shame but also injecting surprising glimpses of humor and hope. Each unforgettable character in this deeply moving novel brings new meaning to the familiar phrase \'never forget.\'
RaveBooklistFascinating in its evocation of the twelfth-century Catholic Church in France, this lavishly detailed historical novel serves as an education in historical philosophy, a poignant tale of devoted love, and a portrait of a postwar human crisis influenced heavily by both ... A heavy emphasis on description and philosophical debate slows the pace some, but those who relish historical fiction with a strong intellectual underpinning...will be right at home here.
RaveBooklistIn addition to getting an unusual perspective on women’s rights and relationships, readers are treated to a full view of historical downtown Bombay—the shops and offices, the docks and old fort, and the huge variety of conveyances, characters, and religions—in an unforgettable olio that provides the perfect backdrop to the plot and subplots. Each of the many characters is uniquely described, flaws and all, which is the key to understanding their surprising roles in the well-constructed puzzle.
PositiveBooklistThese multiple story lines and historical references work well for readers familiar with twentieth-century Eastern European history, but others will need to brush up. Abrupt switches in time periods can be confusing, as (for nonmusicians) are the musical references, but, overall, this textured, style-rich historical novel should prove enjoyable for anyone who loves a symphony of words.
Antonio Muñoz Molina
PositiveBooklistThis is a stylistically complex novel, with shifts of perspective and time, and gorgeously layered language, a book in which to lose oneself, like Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979). Molina’s compelling tale also evokes comparisons to Don DeLillo’s 'historiographic metafiction,' especially in Libra (1988), which explores Lee Harvey Oswald much in the manner that Molina writes about James Earl Ray.
RaveBooklistThe elegant and evocative writing style, combined with a mesmerizing, subtly menacing thrum of psychological suspense, heralds the arrival of a major new talent ... Nail-biting horror mixes with a quiet, unforgettable power to create a novel readers will stay up all night finishing.
PositiveBooklistThe vivid, often frightening imagery (the Leviathan, a shack sinking in the bog, the scrape of scales moving up the shingle) and the lush descriptions ('stained glass angels had the wings of jays') create a magical background for the sensual love story between Sarah and Will. Book-discussion groups will have a field day with the imagery, the well-developed characters, and the concepts of innocence, evil, and guilt. Like Lauren Groff’s The Monsters of Templeton (2008), the appearance of a sea monster sheds more light on humanity than on natural history, while the sudden revelation of a creature of the deep heralds change and revelation, as in Jim Lynch’s The Highest Tide (2005).