Humorous, captivating, thoughtful—existentialism has never been so thrilling.

THE ANOMALY

A mystifying phenomenon sends shock waves through the world of an alternate 2021.

The opening chapter presents a detailed portrait of a professional assassin called Blake, a man described as “extremely meticulous, cautious, and imaginative.” The same adjectives could be applied to author Le Tellier: Trained as a mathematician and a scientific journalist, he uses these first pages to prime the reader for his methodically crafted story. The action then abruptly jumps to Victor Miesel, a disillusioned author and translator who becomes “mired in a horrible impression of unreality” after a turbulent flight. Over the following weeks, Miesel feverishly writes a new book called The anomaly, sends it to his editor, and kills himself. Then, snap, a new chapter begins, introducing a film editor named Lucie, who, along with every subsequently introduced character (eleven, altogether), is inexplicably requisitioned by the authorities.The connection between these people soon becomes clear: They were all passengers on the same turbulent flight. What exactly happened on this airplane? Le Tellier withholds the details for long enough that revealing the mystery here would spoil the entrancing quality of the book. Hunter’s brilliant translation from the French—her fifth collaboration with Le Tellier—transforms Le Tellier’s distinct French voice into a distinct English one. More importantly, Hunter captures the playful exhilaration with which Le Tellier marries his audacious plot to a deep concern for existentialist philosophy. Excerpts from Miesel’s The anomaly appear in epigraphs for each new section, including: “There is something admirable that always surpasses knowledge, intelligence, and even genius, and that is incomprehension.”

Humorous, captivating, thoughtful—existentialism has never been so thrilling.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63542-169-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.

GIDEON THE NINTH

From the Locked Tomb Trilogy series , Vol. 1

This debut novel, the first of a projected trilogy, blends science fiction, fantasy, gothic chiller, and classic house-party mystery.

Gideon Nav, a foundling of mysterious antecedents, was not so much adopted as indentured by the Ninth House, a nearly extinct noble necromantic house. Trained to fight, she wants nothing more than to leave the place where everyone despises her and join the Cohort, the imperial military. But after her most recent escape attempt fails, she finally gets the opportunity to depart the planet. The heir and secret ruler of the Ninth House, the ruthless and prodigiously talented bone adept Harrowhark Nonagesimus, chooses Gideon to serve her as cavalier primary, a sworn bodyguard and aide de camp, when the undying Emperor summons Harrow to compete for a position as a Lyctor, an elite, near-immortal adviser. The decaying Canaan House on the planet of the absent Emperor holds dark secrets and deadly puzzles as well as a cheerfully enigmatic priest who provides only scant details about the nature of the competition...and at least one person dedicated to brutally slaughtering the competitors. Unsure of how to mix with the necromancers and cavaliers from the other Houses, Gideon must decide whom among them she can trust—and her doubts include her own necromancer, Harrow, whom she’s loathed since childhood. This intriguing genre stew works surprisingly well. The limited locations and narrow focus mean that the author doesn’t really have to explain how people not directly attached to a necromantic House or the military actually conduct daily life in the Empire; hopefully future installments will open up the author’s creative universe a bit more. The most interesting aspect of the novel turns out to be the prickly but intimate relationship between Gideon and Harrow, bound together by what appears at first to be simple hatred. But the challenges of Canaan House expose other layers, beginning with a peculiar but compelling mutual loyalty and continuing on to other, more complex feelings, ties, and shared fraught experiences.

Suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31319-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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All the narrative propulsion of escapist fiction without the escape.

PHASE SIX

Paced like a prophetic thriller, this novel suggests that "pandemic" is a continuing series.

Shepard has frequently employed research as a foundation for his literary creations, but never before in such pulse-racing fashion. He's set this narrative in the near future, when the threat of Covid-19 has passed but provides a cautionary lesson. And what have we learned from it? Not enough, apparently, as an outbreak within an extremely isolated settlement of Greenland begins its viral spread around the globe. Readers will find themselves in territory that feels eerily familiar—panic, politics, uncertainty, fear, a resistance to quarantine, an overload of media noise—as Shepard's command of tone never lets the tension ease. Eleven-year-old Aleq somehow survives the initial outbreak, which takes the lives of everyone close to him, and he may provide the key to some resolution if anyone can get him to talk. The novel follows the boy and the pandemic from Greenland to a laboratory facility in Montana as, in little more than a month, the virus or whatever it is, spread by touching, traveling, breathing, has infected some 14 million around the world. Jeannine Dziri and Danice Torrone, a pair of young researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who have dubbed themselves the “Junior Certain Death Squad,” find themselves on the front lines as they attempt to balance personal relationships (which occasionally read like plot contrivances) with all-consuming professional responsibilities. Meanwhile, the pandemic proceeds relentlessly. “APOCALYPSE II?” screams a Fox graphic amid “the social media cacophony,” as mass hysteria shows how human nature can take a horrible situation and make it so much worse. And though the novel builds to a sort of redemption, it suggests that there will be no resolution to the current pandemic beyond nervous anticipation toward the ones to come. Channeling Pasteur, Shepard promises—or threatens—“It will always be the microbes that have the last word.”

All the narrative propulsion of escapist fiction without the escape.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-65545-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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