A grade-A, weirdly comforting, and familiar stew of domestic drama, slasher horror, and primeval evil.

THE BOOK OF ACCIDENTS

A family that's banished itself to the woods of rural Pennsylvania finds more than they bargained for when supernatural forces decide they would make quite a snack.

Prolific and delightfully profane, Wendig pulled off a good trick last time with his sprawling, inventive, and prescient apocalypse chronicle, Wanderers (2019). This is another doorstopper, but here he returns to macabre horror reminiscent of his supernatural Miriam Black novels, injected with a juicy dose of Stephen King–like energy. An eerie opening introduces Edmund Walker Reese, a serial killer strapped into Pennsylvania’s electric chair circa 1990 for murdering four girls—a killer who disappears the second the switch is flipped. In the present day, former Philly cop Nate Graves is stewing over the death of his abusive father, who's left him a home in the woods. Maddie, Nate’s artist wife, thinks it’s perfect for her work, not to mention a natural refuge for their hypersensitive son, Oliver, who's imbued with not only a preternatural empathy for others, but also a gift for lending the pained some solace. At Nate's new job as a Fish and Game officer, his partner, Axel Figeroa, always has one eye open for trouble because of their proximity to Ramble Rocks, where Reese committed his dirty deeds, as does the Graves' neighbor Jed Homackie, a whiskey-drinking peacenik with secrets of his own. As happens, things get weird. Nate starts seeing his dead father around every corner. Maddie experiences fugue states that aren’t simpatico with her newfound predilection for chainsaw sculpture. Oliver gets the worst of it, finding himself caught between a couple of vicious bullies and a newfound frenemy, Jake, who quickly emerges as someone­­­­—or something—far darker than he appears. The characters are eccentric and likable even if their plight isn’t quite unpredictable, and the book will be catnip to horror fans, complete with meddling kids, doppelgangers, dimensional fissures, demons, and ghosts; it's a prototypical edge-of-your-seat plunge into real terror.

A grade-A, weirdly comforting, and familiar stew of domestic drama, slasher horror, and primeval evil.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-18213-6

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Enjoyable for Buffy fans and general paranormal enthusiasts.

IN EVERY GENERATION

Sunnydale has a new slayer.

Set in the world of TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this first installment in a new series focuses on a new generation. Frankie Rosenberg’s mom is the powerful witch Willow, friend to famed slayer Buffy. Frankie’s own minimal powers are mostly used for ecological purposes until there’s an explosion at a slayers’ meeting, leading Frankie to become the first ever slayer-witch. A slayer needs her crew of Scoobies, and under the guidance of Watcher Spike, Frankie is assisted by Hailey, half sister of missing slayer Vi; werewolf lacrosse player Jake; and Sigmund, a Sage demon. Frankie may be new to the gig, but she has to learn quickly because there’s a new Big Bad in Sunnydale who is out for blood. The book provides enough information for patient newcomers to the Buffyverse to enjoy the story, but it will be most appealing to those with at least some background knowledge who will appreciate the references. Though the pacing is inconsistent, exciting action scenes abound, and the villain is intriguing and delightfully vicious. The characters’ banter and observations are often cheeky and funny but sometimes fall flat, as when they are based on gender stereotypes. The abrupt ending satisfyingly wraps up some plots, but there are plenty left open for future entries. Most characters are White; Hailey’s mom was Saulteaux First Nations, and Sigmund is Black.

Enjoyable for Buffy fans and general paranormal enthusiasts. (Paranormal. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-07502-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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