RaveBookPageThe undeniable warmth that permeates Kim Michele Richardson’s fiction is rooted in a love for her home state of Kentucky, her characters and, it seems, the art of writing itself. Her narratives are immersive exercises in character development and world building that are wholly capable of enveloping readers, pulling us deeper with each page until we are happily lost ... The Book Woman’s Daughter...does this from the very beginning ... Throughout The Book Woman’s Daughter, Richardson pushes Honey forward into new states of evolution, desire, grit and spirit while constructing a beautiful vision of 1950s Appalachia in all its natural splendor and complicated humanity.
RaveBookPageThere’s a magic to Isaac Fellman’s fiction, born of his depth of perception, precise prose and straightforward sense of expression. In his second novel, Dead Collections, his characters’ earnestness and warmth make even the darkest moments beautiful, in a way that will remind the reader of the work of Anne Rice and Stephen Graham Jones ... Through a combination of Sol’s incisive narration, message board entries, script books and other formalist flights of experimentation, Fellman lays out Sol’s and Elsie’s parallel journeys with propulsive, intense focus. The prose unfolds with notable determination, and there’s not a single wasted word, even when Fellman plays with format and frame of reference ... or the way Elsie uses light to mimic the experience of daylight for her vampire friend, Fellman’s style is vivid, specific and deeply evocative. On a sentence level, Dead Collections is a sensual, tactile work, and when combined with Fellman’s confident grasp of his characters, it becomes a wonderful, bittersweet journey in which you may get happily lost.
RaveBookPageDarnielle’s stories, whether on the page or set to music have a tendency to transcend easy classification and simple genre labels. And yet there’s always a clarity to them, a feeling that the creator’s mind and heart are at work in tandem. With Devil House, his extraordinarily ambitious third novel, Darnielle proves his versatility yet again. This remarkable shapeshifter of a tale changes form, perspective and even relative truth as it pleases, but never loses its voice ... Devil House never feels like a book steeped in gimmicks, because Darnielle steers his dark vessel with dexterity, wit and stunning inventiveness. This novel will lure in true crime fans and readers of experimental fiction alike, then blow them all away with its determined exploration of the nature of truth and what we want to hear versus what we need to hear. It’s a triumph from an always exciting storyteller.
RaveBookPageErdrich’s latest novel unfolds over the course of one tumultuous year, and its persistent search for meaning reveals astonishing, sublime depths ... her narrative never loses its grip. As vast as its scope may be, The Sentence doesn’t feel overstuffed because Erdrich roots it in Tookie’s own longings, beliefs and challenges ... Erdrich’s prose, layered with unforgettable flourishes of detail—from the mesmeric spinning of a ceiling fan to the quest for the perfect soup—enhances and deepens this growing sense of a larger, collective haunting ... an imaginative, boldly honest exploration of our ever-evolving search for truth in the stories we both consume and create. It’s a staggering addition to Erdrich’s already impressive body of work.
RaveBookPageSilvia Moreno-Garcia has a knack for re-envisioning familiar, even comforting genre territory in vital new ways ... As always, Moreno-Garcia couches all her riffs on genre conventions within a deeply ingrained sense of character. Before we can fully grasp the many angles of the tangled, noir-tinged web she’s weaving, we must first get to know Maite and Elvis and their different forms of ache and longing. Through precise, accessible yet poetic prose, these characters instantly come alive ... another triumph for one of genre fiction’s brightest voices, a book that will keep you up late into the night.
RaveBookPageIntense, emotional and rich with beautifully rendered prose, McConaghy’s novel is a powerful meditation on humanity, nature and the often frightening animalistic impulses lurking within us all ... Her prose never feels overwhelmed or even particularly hurried. There’s a density of meaning to her language, filling every paragraph with poignant, poetic life, and it’s clear even in the opening chapters that she’s mastered this world and these characters ... Once There Were Wolves is another triumph for a rising fiction star, offering an intensely realized world for readers to get lost in.
RaveBookPageThere’s an intimacy to Jason Mott’s fiction, retained even when the scope of his narrative widens. But even by these standards, his fourth novel is a uniquely tight, personal story that digs into deeply emotional territory. Through two interwoven storylines unfolding in a witty, often devastatingly incisive style, Hell of a Book is a journey into the heart of a very particular American experience, one that far too many don’t live to tell ... You may think you see where these two stories are headed, where they will converge and knit together, and what they will have to say at the end, but you don’t. And even if you could, Mott’s bittersweet, remarkably nimble novel would still keep you turning the pages ... a masterwork of balance, as Mott navigates the two narratives and their delicate tonal distinctions. A surrealist feast of imagination that’s brimming with very real horrors, frustrations and sorrows, it can break your heart and make you laugh out loud at the same time, often on the same page. This is an achievement of American fiction that rises to meet this particular moment with charm, wisdom and truth.
RaveBookPage... a cluster of 10 dazzling stories that are as diverse as they are vibrant ... Nkweti ensures that no two tales are alike, regardless of their thematic connective tissue ... Even beyond the variety of subject matter, Nkweti displays her virtuosity and elasticity through her prose. With the ease of a master, she shifts between points of view, between American and African slang, and between the straightforward and the avant-garde. Each story offers not only a different subject but also a different approach, a new plan of narrative attack to conquer each emotional landscape. The result is an intense, sweeping and altogether stunning reading experience.
RaveBookPagea story you simply won’t see coming. You might think you’ve figured out the pillars of its structure after a few chapters, or come to truly understand its protagonist after walking a few dozen pages with her, but to read this powerful, moving and terrifying novel is to enter into a constant state of change. The story envelops you slowly, like a cocoon, wrapping you in its ever-increasing depth and heart until you emerge, at the end, transformed ... As Vern gradually awakens to the wider world and its wonders and terrors, Solomon charts her journey through prose that is both economical and fiercely emotional. What’s most striking is the way in which Solomon captures Vern’s creeping, often frightening realization that the world is altogether more complex and monstrous than she once thought ... Full of horror, love and incisive observation, Sorrowland is so perfectly plotted that readers won’t be able to predict what’s to come any better than Vern can. It’s a truly powerful piece of storytelling.
PositiveBookPageWhen a story is set in an invented universe, the line its author must walk is a bit more treacherous than when a tale is set in a recognizable \'real\' world. In The Ladies of the Secret Circus, Constance Sayers proves she can walk that line with grace and power ... The novel’s massive network of connections—tactile and ethereal, physical and mystical—makes for a luxurious reading experience, like a rich tapestry. The Ladies of the Secret Circus is a book to get lost in, not just because of the fantasy elements that layer it with intrigue but also because of the emotional connections that tie it all together. Through beautifully orchestrated prose and careful, confident pacing, Sayers constructs a story that feels like sitting down with an older relative and slowly, over hours, getting all the family secrets in one juicy, enchanted package.
PositiveBookPage... spellbinding ... What’s most striking about The Lost Apothecary is not how expertly Penner braids the three strands of her story together, though the structure and pacing are certainly well done. What is most admirable is that, as she leaps between first-person perspectives—including two women who are often reflecting on the exact same events—the sense of character never once falters. Their presences and voices are distinct, even as they’re bound by an emotional link that is clear to the reader (though not always clear to the characters). There’s a powerful unity to this story, making it nimble yet sturdy, light yet satiating ... Like in a well-brewed potion, all the ingredients have been given exactly the right level of care and time, and the result is a novel that simply overwhelms with its delicate spell.
RaveBookPageIn the hands of the right storyteller, even the most compact novels can be works of great complexity ... a dazzling exercise in both economy of language and vividness of expression. Audrain’s grasp of Blythe’s inner life—her fears, her hopes, the details that linger in her mind— is so precise and mature that we get lost in this woman’s often troubling world. That feeling propels the novel forward at a blistering pace ... spellbinding ... The Push announces Audrain as a sophisticated, compelling writer, perfect for fans of thrillers and intimate family dramas alike.
Dantiel W. Moniz
RaveBookPageOften the most powerful elements of fiction are the emotional truths mined from the most difficult experiences ... Milk Blood Heat is thoroughly tethered to this kind of emotional truth. Throughout 11 short stories—all set in Florida, all focusing on transformative experiences in the lives of women—Moniz weaves tales that are as profound as they are unnerving, as moving as they are surprising ... Each of the stories in this collection is anchored by Moniz’s gorgeous, precise prose ... Though they share certain geographic and thematic connections, the tales are quite diverse in their perspectives and casts. What unites them, and what keeps us turning the pages through scenes of tragedy and self-discovery, rebellion and reconciliation, trauma and agency, is the singular voice guiding each character. In nearly every paragraph, Moniz unfurls some new observation that nestles down in your brain and sits, steeping like tea leaves, until each story has formed a cohesive, powerful emotional experience. It’s a magical sensation that reveals astonishing talent ... a slim but mighty volume of short fiction, one that announces Moniz as a transfixing voice capable of limning often staggering emotional truths.
RaveBookpage...with the expert, deft hands of a seasoned carpenter, author Michael Christie carefully and methodically pieces together a story as intricate as the rings within a tree. The result is a deeply compelling novel of family and memory ...Christie creates a sense of poetic, organic symmetry through rich characters and evocative, almost tactile descriptions. Even if readers are sad to leave Jake’s storyline in order to get to know her family, they may become just as captivated by her grandmother, Willow, and the ancestors that come before her ... The structure provides a captivating spine for Greenwood, but what stands out most by the end is the way in which Christie has been able to evoke and give voice to the way the cumulative effect of time and memory weighs on us all in ways both uplifting and terrifying. Greenwood is a towering, profound novel about the things that endure even as the world seems to be moving on.
PositiveBookPageKidd has woven a spellbinding alternate version of Victorian London that is both recognizable and like getting lost in some mist-shrouded parallel world only spoken of in myths. It is into this version of London, where tattooed ghosts lurk near their own gravestones and seven-foot-tall housekeepers spend their idle time reading potboiler fiction, that Kidd drops Bridie Devine, a private detective with such distinctive style and intense charisma that we fall in love with her immediately ... Equal parts historical thriller and fabulist phantasm, Things in Jars is instantly compelling, but what sets it apart is the prose. There’s a playful, lithe familiarity to it as Kidd dances across delightfully apt phrases like a master. Even as the novel sweeps you up in its narrative, it also sweeps you up in its sentence-by-sentence construction, making it both a whirlwind read and a novel you could happily get lost in for weeks, dissecting every paragraph ... the kind of lavish, elegant genre treat that makes you wish Kidd would churn out a new Bridie Devine mystery every three years until the end of time.
RaveBookPageThe best science fiction stories create a bridge between ambitious, precisely calculated genre concepts and the deep, emotional truths that unite us all. Keeping the balance between intricate sci-fi backdrops and delicate matters of the heart is a high-wire act that only succeeds with tremendous care, passion and narrative grace. In his debut novel, The Vanished Birds, Simon Jimenez has announced himself as a graceful, spellbinding storyteller with the gifts to pull it off ... The book never fails to deliver the science fiction goods, and fans of high-concept leaps will be satisfied, but the book’s emotional core is what makes it fly ... The Vanished Birds strikes a breathless balance between the conceptually dazzling and the emotionally resonant, and it’s in that balance that a bright new voice in genre fiction is born.
Katy Simpson Smith
PositiveBookPage... a rare book whose ambition is matched by its craft and emotional weight. Combining the gravity of history with the tribulations of faith and the wit and wisdom of Satan himself, this is a book that somehow retains its power even as it hops across time to tell four very different stories that nonetheless share a common, human heart ... There’s no weak link here, no character you’d rather leave out of this journey, because Smith’s prose is so precise and evocative that each narrative feels as precious as a holy relic ... Then there’s the cutting, heartbroken voice of Satan interjecting into each narrative, tying them all together with his own perception of human history and his own particularly bittersweet relationship with God ... The result of all these different threads is an exquisite tapestry of history, religion and heartbreak that’s perfect for historical fiction and fabulism fans alike.
RaveBookPageAlice Hoffman is a brilliant weaver of magic and the mundane ... In her hands, a story we think we know, from a time we think we’ve extracted every possible detail, can become a soulful new voyage into the heart of the human condition ... a spellbinding tale of love, loss and what it means to endure ... In beautifully precise prose, Hoffman chronicles the experiences of these characters and those whose lives they touch along the way ... Though Nazi-occupied France is an endlessly compelling place to many readers, Hoffman never takes her historical setting for granted. Rather than leaving us to lean on what we think we know, she weaves a fully realized vision of the hidden parts of history, chronicling the stories of people who slipped through the cracks on their way to freedom and the emotional toll that freedom took ... Page by page, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, The World That We Knew presents a breathtaking, deeply emotional odyssey through the shadows of a dimming world while never failing to convince us that there is light somewhere at the end of it all. This book feels destined to become a high point in an already stellar career.
RaveBookPageEvoking [a] sense of universality becomes...difficult when you’re telling a story that’s an open homage to one of the most famous and influential works of literature in human history, but in his insightful and wickedly funny way, Salman Rushdie pulls it off with Quichotte ... By structuring Quichotte as a narrative within a narrative, [Rushdie\'s] given himself an inventive way to say something about a world obsessed with everything from reality television to hacktivism. Quichotte is a story of breathtaking intellectual scope, and yet it never feels too weighty or self-serious. Like Cervantes, Rushdie is able to balance his commentary with a voice full of tragicomic fervor, which makes the novel a thrilling adventure on a sentence-by-sentence level and another triumph for Rushdie.
RaveBookPagePerhaps the greatest success of the novel is Powers’ ability to get inside Leonid’s head, to paint a portrait of the psychological whiplash he’s endured throughout his life ... Powers is unafraid to probe the confounding, often darkly comic answers to these questions, even if the answers are sometimes frustratingly uncertain. This attention to emotional detail, combined with a powerful supporting cast and a masterful sense of historical table-setting, makes First Cosmic Velocity a delightfully complex page-turner for space enthusiasts and fans of alternate histories. You will never look at the space race the same way again.
RaveBookPage[Wendig\'s] ability to juggle so many fully realized characters is impressive, but even more so is the astonishing power Wanderers commands in conveying what it would actually feel like if this happened in the America we live in now, complicated by deep ideological divides, disinformation and the constant chatter of social media. All of these elements work together, often in surprising ways, to create a sense of terrifying plausibility and compelling verisimilitude. The true success of Wanderers, though, is not just in its ability to show us the grim scenarios that could play out across a divided nation; it’s in its heart. Whether he’s writing about rage or faith or the faintest glimmer of light, Wendig brings a sincerity and emotional weight to his prose. That’s why the scariest parts of Wanderers work, but it’s also why the most hopeful ones do, too.
RaveBookPage... an astonishing debut novel that’s both a new entry in the long history of great fiction about grief and a darkly comic flight of brilliance that transports the reader to a familiar yet alien world of frozen moments and dysfunctional love ... Arnett’s precise, wickedly witty prose paints a portrait of a searcher, of a woman longing for what came before even if she’s no longer entirely sure what she liked about it, even as she attempts to let something new into her life. It all comes together in a bold, dark and profound comic novel about the nature of love, loss and invention ... announces Arnett as one of the most promising rising novelists writing today.
RaveBookPageReading a Ted Chiang anthology is an experience that slowly claims little corners of your brain until eventually your whole head is devoted to it ... each tale is so compelling and complex ... One after another, Chiang’s stories claim their place in your mind until you’re completely swept up in his provocative and at times even charming world ... Each story is a carefully considered, finely honed machine designed to entertain, but this collection also forces you to look at things like your smartphone or your pet with new eyes. What makes Exhalation particularly brilliant is that not one of the stories feels like it’s designed to be thought-provoking in a stilted, academic way ... a must-read.
G. Willow Wilson
RaveBookPageWith her debut novel, Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson announced herself as a powerful new voice in the realm of speculative fiction. With her new novel, The Bird King, she has cemented her place as one of the brightest lights of fantasy storytelling ... Wilson’s tale unfolds with all the grace and swiftness of a classic magical adventure, with strange encounters and new lands waiting with each turn of the page. There’s a familiarity, a lived-in quality, to the prose and sense of character that evokes an almost fairy-tale sensibility, but then Wilson digs deeper, into something as timeless as a myth but much more intimate. As it spreads out before the reader like a lavish tapestry, Wilson’s story becomes a gorgeous, ambitious meditation on faith, platonic love, magic and even storytelling itself, with a trio of unforgettable personalities serving as its beating, endlessly vital heart ... a triumph—immersive in historical detail and yet, in many ways, it could have happened yesterday. Wilson has once again proven that she’s one of the best fantasy writers working today, with a book that’s just waiting for readers to get happily lost in its pages.
PositiveBookPage\"The Parade, the latest compelling tale from Dave Eggers, is a short book, but not at the expense of anything it needs to function as a taut, direct and lean narrative. There’s not an ounce of fat on this book, and that makes it both inviting and the kind of novel that will linger in your brain for hours, even days, after you’ve read it ... The novel is sparse, free of proper names and major geographic and political details because it doesn’t need them. In deliberate, measured prose, Eggers marches his characters down the road toward uncertainty, building tension and conflict until the novel’s complex and thoughtful climax. The purposeful vagueness makes the novel feel timeless and universal, while Eggers’ way of pouring on the emotional details when it really counts makes it haunting. The Parade is a tight, thrilling, brisk read that will make you ponder your place in the world.\
RaveBookPage\"James has once again delivered something that must be read to be believed, a majestic novel full of unforgettable characters, gorgeous prose and vivid adventures ... Black Leopard, Red Wolf heralds the arrival of one of fantasy’s next great sagas and reaffirms James as one of the greatest storytellers of his generation.\
RaveBookPage\"The best retellings of myths and legends create an atmosphere like a dreamscape, faintly familiar in a way you can’t quite place... Everything Under, Daisy Johnson’s spellbinding debut novel, is a magical book in exactly that way ... Everything Under is, first and foremost, a novel of exquisite, heartbreakingly beautiful prose. Johnson leaps confidently and nimbly between present and past, switching narrative perspectives like a master and weaving gorgeous, spooky imagery ... This brief, artful novel announces Johnson as a gifted storyteller who’s here to stay, and you’ll be craving the next book by the time you’re done.\
RaveBookPageThe Lost Queen...is the rare historical epic that manages to be truly sweeping and yet always intense and personal—at once a romance, a story of faith, a story of war and a story of family without ever sacrificing one element to focus on another. The romance does not cancel out the palace intrigue, the faith does not cancel out the magic, and the war does not cancel out the intimate moments of discovery and history. It’s all there at once, each element as rich as any other ... Languoreth’s narration, coupled with the sense that we get to discover the intrigues and mysteries of her world along with her as she ages, is the key to the novel’s success. Pike strikes the right balance of immersive historical detail and sincere emotional resonance, and it never falters throughout the book. By the end, you feel happily lost in this mist-shrouded place in history, and you only wish you could stay there longer.
Haruki Murakami, Trans. by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen
RaveBookPageLike all of Haruki Murakami’s stories, Killing Commendatore is vast, ambitious and composed of seemingly disparate layers that somehow all find a way to link together ... it’s another brilliant journey through the mind of one of our greatest living storytellers ... One of Murakami’s most effective techniques is his economy of language, which creates a constant juxtaposition of extraordinary events and deceptively simple, unhurried prose ... a joyously unpredictable novel, cracking itself open one piece at a time like an ancient puzzle box, and Murakami’s careful, masterful style assures the reader that it’s worthwhile to get happily lost inside.
PositiveBookPageCaitlin Moran has a gift—in both short- and long-form writing, in both fiction and nonfiction—that hits like magic when it lands in the lap of the right reader. It’s a rare, mesmerizing talent ... How to Be Famous lives or dies based on Moran’s ability to render Dolly as an enchanting, vulnerable and hilarious guide through the mid-1990s London music scene, and Dolly’s charm immediately jumps off the page ... [Moran\'s] ambition, like Dolly’s, is to weave into this tale a kind of feminist manifesto ... She succeeds throughout but keeps you waiting for the final, unforgettable exclamation point at the book’s hysterical climax.
RaveBookPageBernard Cornwell is well versed in historical writing — he’s perhaps the living king of the genre at this point — but this is Shakespeare we’re talking about. It’s intimidating territory, and not every novelist can do it well ... With his usual knack for detail and characterization, Cornwell plunges fearlessly into Shakespearean England for his latest novel ... The first thing readers will notice in Fools and Mortals, as they will in Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom, is the voice. Richard tells his own story, and as crafted by Cornwell’s skilled hands, he tells it beautifully. Right away, there’s a sense of the Shakespearean balance of wit and drama ...Cornwell places us in proximity to history we know and then brushes greater depth and detail into the personal story he’s trying to convey ...a riveting novel driven by a distinctive voice that’s sure to hook you.
RaveBookPageHis stories, from short fiction to novels, are tightly wound coils of energy, humor and insight, waiting to spring on us. Smile is another stellar example of Doyle’s brand of dense, kinetic storytelling. In just over 200 pages, Doyle manages to tell us something startling, funny and strange about the nature of human tragedy and pain ... Doyle has a particular talent for humor and dialogue, but he also has the rare quality of being able to balance an economy of language with a dense sense of perception. Not a word is wasted here, and there aren’t many to waste. This is a gift, and it’s one Doyle harnesses with particular power in Smile. This drives the book at an almost fever pitch, practically daring you to turn each page and see what kind of incisive character wisdom he’s about to impart next. By the end, even if you think you know what’s coming, you will be dumbstruck by the storytelling prowess at work. Smile is a brief, brilliant, frenzied reading experience that only Roddy Doyle could deliver.
RaveBookPageThe Absolutist might be his most intimate story yet—a journey inside the mind of a man who’s seen the horror of war, and the tale of his quest to somehow find peace in the lonely aftermath ... Tristan bears the scars of war on his body, but the real reason for his journey is the scars on his heart. The world knows only that Tristan and Will were friends, and how Will officially met his end ...is surprisingly slim. Boyne conveys the period accurately and elegantly, but the characters—specifically Tristan, who narrates—are the stars ... This is a different kind of journey into the darkness of war, told by a gifted, powerful novelist, and the result is a book with an often staggering emotional punch.
Stephen King & Owen King
RaveBookPage...a triumph of two voices blending wonderfully to take us into a dark and all-too-real dream ... Sleeping Beauties traffics in some very potent themes, from the obvious question of what an all-male society would devolve into to less obvious concerns like the politics of a women’s prison and the evolution of sexuality during the aging process. None of these issues, though, are dealt with cheaply or crudely. The book wields the best attributes of each author—Stephen’s ability to ratchet up tension, Owen’s wit and their joint gifts for character detail—with a deftness that makes it feel like the work of a single hybrid imagination. In the authors’ hands, the themes and characters of Sleeping Beauties become powerful fictional case studies, holding the mirror up to our own powder keg of a society in unforgettable and often unnerving ways.