THE SANDMAN

BOOK OF DREAMS

Top-flight fantasy collection based on Gaiman's character The Sandman, developed in a series of graphic novels for DC Comics, as reimagined by a strong group of fantasists. Long-lived comics readers will remember fondly the original "Sandman" from the 1930s and '40s, with his fedora, googly-eyed gas mask and gas gun; Frank McConnell discusses this precursor in his preface while hauling in Joyce, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Jung, and Wallace Stevens to dress up Gaiman's stow-parentage. Inventing his own lore for the character, Gaiman (1990's hilariously naughty Good Omens, with Terry Pratchett) wrote 75 installments of The Sandman before closing shop. Awash with watercolors and supersaturated with acid, The Sandman stories are stories about storytelling, celebrations of the outr‚ imagination. The central character of Gaiman's work evolved into a figure variously known as Dream, or Morpheus, or the Shaper, or the Lord of Dreams and Prince of Stories, and his surreal family is called the Endless, composed of seven siblings named Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. Drawing on Gaiman's inkwell are Clive Barker (frontispiece but no story), Gene Wolfe and Nancy A. Collins, and a number of lesser lights, all in top form. George Alec Effinger invents a long tale inspired by Winsor McCay's classic comic strip "Little Nemo" ("Seven Nights in Slumberland"), while Colin Greenland ("Masquerade and High Water"), Mark Kreighbaum ("The Gate of Gold"), Susanna Clarke ("Stopt-Clock Yard"), and Karen Haber (in the outstanding "A Bone Dry Place," about a suicide crisis center) mainline directly from the ranks of the Endless. Rosettes to all, but especially to John M. Ford's "Chain Home, Low," which ties an onslaught of sleeping sickness to the fate of WW II fighter pilots, and to Will Shetterly's "Splatter," about a fan-convention of serial killers who lead their favorite novelist (famous for his depictions of psychopathic murderers) into the real world of serial-killing. Fancy unleashed on rags of moonlight.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-06-100833-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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

BAREFOOT

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.

FRIENDS FOREVER

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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