A perfect Mobius strip of a novel that playfully examines the creative and destructive potential of language.

PRESENT TENSE MACHINE

A slippery metafictional take on the peril and power of words and how identities fracture and compartmentalize across a lifetime, from one of the most exciting contemporary voices in international literature.

In another masterful translation by Dickson of Øyehaug's wily, mercurial prose, the author-translator team frolics across the multiverse to explore the rifts that open between, most especially, mothers and daughters but also spouses and ex-lovers and between self-perception and how others experience us. Laura, a 24-year-old literature teacher, is pregnant with her first child and increasingly anxious as her due date approaches: about the safety of their fire-trap flat, about fidelity (her own and her husband's), and about "a disconcerting feeling that everything is double." Anna, aged 44, mother of two children—that she knows of—is a writer working on her latest book and perennial obsession, a novel about the origins of language. Though Anna and Laura are unaware of each other’s existence, they are, in fact, mother and daughter. Twenty-two years earlier, Anna sat reading Swedish poetry while supervising 2-year-old Laura pedaling her tricycle in the front yard. When Anna misread the word “trädgård” (garden) as the nonsensical "tärdgård," it opened a parallel universe that Laura vanished into, entirely erased but for Anna's lasting sense that something important is missing, while in Laura's new universe, Anna has never existed at all. At the same time, Anna's husband, Bård, returning from a job in the upper reaches of Norway to escape his attraction to another woman, split in two—one version in each universe—as he bought a newspaper and committed the same misreading. In the present, as Laura prepares for her own daughter's birth, Anna works on her novel, her narrator simultaneously writing the story we ourselves are reading, and navigates a relationship with her teenage daughter, Elina, that seems at times hardly more bridgeable than that with her lost daughter living in an alternate universe. With wry hyperbole, Øyehaug plays out the effects one seemingly inconsequential mistake can have on our relationships, our selves, and the lives of the next generation.

A perfect Mobius strip of a novel that playfully examines the creative and destructive potential of language.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-3742-3717-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

BOOK OF NIGHT

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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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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