A raucously entertaining, richly atmospheric SF sports fable.



Baseball players travel back in time to the wild major leagues of the early 20th century in this fantasy.

Hermanos’ tale follows three modern-day San Francisco Giants teammates—prima-donna star André Velez, who keeps hammering homers with the help of illicit steroids; struggling rookie second baseman Johnny Blent; and grizzled manager Bucky Martin. They get catapulted back to the year 1906 during an earthquake and wash up with the New York Giants. The trio takes in a barely recognizable sport where bats weigh 50 ounces; unkempt playing fields are studded with rocks and potholes; spitballs are legal; drunken fans routinely attack players on the diamond; and contracts pay $800 a year. Blent and Velez painfully adjust—the half Black Velez pretends to be a Native American to get into the segregated majors—to become top players. Martin, meanwhile, gets hired as manager thanks to his 21st-century sabermetrics; he gradually tames a team that likes liquor, vandalism, and gunplay better than practicing and leads the Giants from the cellar to the World Series. Unfortunately, the trio’s new timeline is warped by the presence of New Glory, a Caribbean slave empire run by Confederates who escaped to Cuba after the Civil War and are forcing Albert Einstein to build them an atom bomb. When New Glory’s baseball league challenges the Giants to a “Solar Series,” the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Hermanos’ novel mixes steampunk themes into a vivid baseball yarn that’s full of colorful period details and piquant sketches of historical figures, from wily mound genius Christy Mathewson to a blustery Theodore Roosevelt and a mad Nikola Tesla. The author’s portrait of old-time baseball steeps readers in intricate strategizing, punchy dialogue—“Phillippe, you fucking infant! Suck your thumb! Shake your rattle!” goes a typical on-field razzing—and play-by-play that’s riveting and even lyrical. (“Head down, legs churning, he senses the white light of God is emanating from second base as he races for it, the ball crossing his field of vision as he slides, the ball ticking off the second baseman’s glove, Blent popping up and zipping for third, McGraw’s fist of a face staring at the ball coming in, ‘Down! Down! Down!’ ”) Readers will stick with this riotous page-turner to the last out.

A raucously entertaining, richly atmospheric SF sports fable.

Pub Date: March 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-950301-23-2

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Inkshares

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Combine Straub's usual warmth and insight with the fun of time travel and you have a winner.


A woman who's been drifting through life wakes up the morning after her 40th birthday to discover that she's just turned 16 again.

Alice Stern wouldn't say she's unhappy. She lives in a studio apartment in Brooklyn; has a job in the admissions office of the Upper West Side private school she attended as a kid; still hangs out with Sam, her childhood best friend; and has a great relationship with her father, Leonard, the famous author of a time-travel novel, Time Brothers. Alice's mother left her and Leonard when Alice was a kid, and father and daughter formed a tight, loving unit along with their freakishly long-lived cat, Ursula. But now Leonard is in a coma, and as she visits him in the hospital every day, Alice is forced to reckon with her life. After a drunken birthday evening with Sam, Alice returns to her childhood house on Pomander Walk, a one-block-long gated street running between two avenues on the UWS—but when she wakes up the next morning, she hears Leonard in the kitchen and finds herself heading off to SAT tutoring and preparing for her 16th birthday party that night. Straub's novel has echoes of Thornton Wilder's play Our Town: Every prosaic detail of her earlier life is almost unbearably poignant to Alice, and the chance to spend time with her father is priceless. As she moves through her day, she tries to figure out how to get back to her life as a 40-year-old and whether there's anything she can do in the past to improve her future—and save her father's life. As always, Straub creates characters who feel fully alive, exploring the subtleties of their thoughts, feelings, and relationships. It's hard to say more without giving away the delightful surprises of the book's second half, but be assured that Straub's time-travel shenanigans are up there with Kate Atkinson's Life After Life and the TV show Russian Doll.

Combine Straub's usual warmth and insight with the fun of time travel and you have a winner.

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-53900-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

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A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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