Hot on the heels of The Gunslinger (1988) comes the second volume of King's gargantuan alternate-universe omnibus. And not a moment too soon: readers who slogged, downcast, through the murky first installment will find here a brighter, friskier, much more involving read as Roland the Gunslinger takes his quest for the Dark Tower into our world and time. Last seen, Roland sat at the edge of a giant sea, knowing that to achieve the Dark Tower—the hub of creation—he'll need to collect three people: The Prisoner, The Lady of Shadows, and Death. How? By stepping through three doors that protrude from the endless coastline, thus walking into the minds of three citizens of 20th-century N.Y.C. Before Roland opens the first door, however, he's roamed by a "lobstrosity," a claw-snapping sea critter whose bite spins him into a near-fatal fever. So it's a weak and desperate Roland that steps into door #1 and into the heroin-addled mind of punk crook Eddie Dean—The Prisoner—about to be busted for carrying two pounds of coke through customs at Kennedy Airport. Since Roland needs to cohabit Eddie's body to find medicine for his fever, he talks the addict through customs and a subsequent confrontation with Eddie's vicious mob-boss—and then, penicillin in hand, drags the addict back into Gunslinger-world, where the two bond as Roland heals while Eddie withdraws. Up pops door #2: The Lady of Shadows turns out to be a crippled, beautiful, Jekyll-and-Hyde black woman; Eddie falls in love with Jekyll but crazed, murderous Hyde nearly kills both Eddie and Roland before the Gunslinger merges the two personalities into a third, Susannah. Behind door #3, Roland finds Death—who turns out to be a psycho killer, and then, in a typical King turn of poetic justice, Roland himself. Prime King, very suspenseful and often quite tunny during Roland's stranger-in-a-strange-land forays into Gotham, with psychologically dense characters, reams of virtuoso horror writing, and little of the sophomoric portentousness of the early volume (which King began in college; this volume was penned recently). In an afterword, King previews volumes 3 and 4: an epic in the making, and, if the quality of this one sustains, a series to be savored as it grows.

Pub Date: March 1, 1989

ISBN: 0451210859

Page Count: 320

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1989

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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