A spellbinding yarn about people caught in an open-ended space puzzle, told with force and gravity.

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SKYBOUND

A massive, enigmatic object appears near Earth and halts the planet’s rotation in Iovino’s SF debut.

At some point in the near future, a huge, opaque, vaguely dart-shaped object suddenly materializes in the atmosphere over North America, “ensconced in sunlight, enrobed in shimmering, purpled translucence.” Then Earth and the moon both stop rotating. Although the sudden stop doesn’t initially create the doomsday seismic and inertial forces that science would predict, Eurasia is plunged into darkness, and the Americas suffer blazing, continual daylight. All artificial satellites hurtle off into space, and the small crew of the International Space Station attempt a desperate return to solid ground with a soyuz spacecraft. In a tapped-out Colorado mining town reliant on the nearby military base, both a young priest struggling with his ministry and his sister, an aerospace engineer, will play key parts in the story as the paralysis of the globe creates unnatural tides, tremors, and even frightening wildlife behavior. Humans, cut off from conventional communications, fall prey to fear, violence, and religious fanaticism. For a story about an immobile planet, Iovino crafts an exciting plotline that never stops. The pages speedily turn, and the orbiting subplots and numerous characters appealingly recall all-star 1970s disaster epics. As a bonus, the most heroic roles, once filled by men like George Kennedy or Charlton Heston in such films, go to strong female characters. The author teases readers with explanations for the cosmic cataclysm but is miserly when it comes to delivering any real answers, unless an asteroid-field of sequels are on their way. Nonetheless, this book’s action, suspense, and emotional elements will keep readers transfixed.

A spellbinding yarn about people caught in an open-ended space puzzle, told with force and gravity.  

Pub Date: June 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73-717460-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: LAB Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

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THE TESTAMENTS

Atwood goes back to Gilead.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), consistently regarded as a masterpiece of 20th-century literature, has gained new attention in recent years with the success of the Hulu series as well as fresh appreciation from readers who feel like this story has new relevance in America’s current political climate. Atwood herself has spoken about how news headlines have made her dystopian fiction seem eerily plausible, and it’s not difficult to imagine her wanting to revisit Gilead as the TV show has sped past where her narrative ended. Like the novel that preceded it, this sequel is presented as found documents—first-person accounts of life inside a misogynistic theocracy from three informants. There is Agnes Jemima, a girl who rejects the marriage her family arranges for her but still has faith in God and Gilead. There’s Daisy, who learns on her 16th birthday that her whole life has been a lie. And there's Aunt Lydia, the woman responsible for turning women into Handmaids. This approach gives readers insight into different aspects of life inside and outside Gilead, but it also leads to a book that sometimes feels overstuffed. The Handmaid’s Tale combined exquisite lyricism with a powerful sense of urgency, as if a thoughtful, perceptive woman was racing against time to give witness to her experience. That narrator hinted at more than she said; Atwood seemed to trust readers to fill in the gaps. This dynamic created an atmosphere of intimacy. However curious we might be about Gilead and the resistance operating outside that country, what we learn here is that what Atwood left unsaid in the first novel generated more horror and outrage than explicit detail can. And the more we get to know Agnes, Daisy, and Aunt Lydia, the less convincing they become. It’s hard, of course, to compete with a beloved classic, so maybe the best way to read this new book is to forget about The Handmaid’s Tale and enjoy it as an artful feminist thriller.

Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54378-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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