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Bram Stoker Awards
2011 (Best Novel)
Flesh Eaters
Click to search this book in our catalog   Joe McKinney
2011 (Best Nonfiction)
Stephen King: A Literary Companion
Click to search this book in our catalog   Rocky Wood

Library Journal Freelance writer Wood (Stephen King: The Non-Fiction) has assembled an alphabetized primer on Stephen King's finished and incomplete short stories, screenplays, and novels. Alphabetized entries detail specific works and characters. Each entry also discusses the origin of the work and the reappearance of characters or related themes elsewhere. Engaging and informative, this essential reference for horror and fantasy collections complements Bev Vincent's more biographical Stephen King Illustrated Companion.-Savannah Schroll Guz, formerly with Smithsonian Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2010 (Best Novel)
A Dark Matter
Click to search this book in our catalog   Peter Straub

Library Journal Forty years after a horrific event experienced by a group of high school seniors, the now middle-aged participants individually review what happened. In 1960, under the spell of a charismatic, slightly older man who claimed special powers, the teens had been led to share what may have been a delusion or an actual, spectacular murder. The author's well-recognized skill in building suspense and subtly revealing aspects of character strengthens this complex plot. The basic question-is evil innately human, or is it something external?-is appropriately and perhaps disturbingly left for the reader's speculation. While hints of the presence of supernatural beings are dropped frequently, there are repeated but only brief mentions of bloody slaughter rather than the extensive juicy depictions that TV and videogame addicts might expect. VERDICT Bram Stoker Award winner Straub's (Ghost Story; Lost Boy; Lost Girl) latest offering in new wave horror will thrill his many fans and attract new readers. A very good choice for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/09.]-Jonathan Pearce, California State Univ. at Stanislaus, Stockton (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Student demos and cop riots weren't the only spectacular events in Madison, Wisconsin, back in 1966. A footloose occultist guru blew into town and gathered a following of four high-school seniors and two UW frat boys, eventually to join him and his blonde-stunner girlfriend in a ritual in a disused field belonging to the ag school. The ceremony succeeded, but killed one collegian, made the other disappear, and drastically altered each of the high-schoolers' lives. Four decades later, novelist Lee Harwell, whose girlfriend and eventual wife was one of the four high-schoolers, and who might have been in the field that day but for his profound skepticism of the guru, is jogged by a most un-Proustian memory-trigger into finding out from each of his old pals just what happened and writing it up. Hence, this book is rich with well-realized characters and incidents, and as dazzling a literary performance as anything Straub has ever written. Particularly impressive this time is the way Straub alters the texture of the prose as Harwell's research progresses from initial murk through successively clearer atmospheres and brighter tones until, just before the last eyewitness testimony, his wife's, it's almost too shiny and slick. Then, with her account, which partially remystifies things, the book ends in the normal, reassuring light of day. Quite a performance.--Olson, Ray Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In this tour de force from bestseller Straub (In the Night Room), four high school friends in 1966 Madison, Wis.-Hootie Bly, Dilly Olson, Jason Boatman, and Lee Truax-fall under the spell of charismatic "wandering guru" Spencer Mallon. During an occult ceremony in which Mallon attempts to break through to a higher reality, something goes horribly awry leaving one participant dead. Decades later, Lee's writer husband interviews the quartet to find out what happened. In Roshomon-like fashion, each relates a slightly different account of the trauma they experienced. Straub masterfully shows how the disappointments, downturns, and failed promise of the four friends' lives may have stemmed from this youthful experience, and suggests, by extension, that the malignant evil they helped unleash into the world has tainted all hope ever since. Brilliant in its orchestration and provocative in its speculations, this novel ranks as one of the finest tales of modern horror. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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2010 (Best First Novel)
Black and Orange
 Benjamin Kane Ethridge
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2010 (Best First Novel)
Castle of Los Angeles
 Lisa Morton
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2010 (Best Nonfiction)
To Each Their Darkness
 Gary A. Braunbeck
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2009 (Best Novel)
Audreys Door
Click to search this book in our catalog   Sarah Langan
2009 (Best First Novel)
Damnable
Click to search this book in our catalog   Hank Schwaeble
2009 (Best Nonfiction)
Writers Workshop of Horror
Click to search this book in our catalog   Michael Knost
 
2008 (Best Novel)
The Missing
 Sarah Langan
Publishers Weekly : Starred Review. In her second novel, Langan delivers a powerhouse creepfest that recalls, in the best way possible, the early work of Stephen King. Corpus Christi, Maine, was once a town of affluence, but since the mysterious paper mill fire in the neighboring town of Bedford (depicted in last year's well-received debut, The Keeper) released dense sulfuric clouds that killed the surrounding forest, Corpus Christi has been in steady decline. When fourth-grade teacher Lois Larkin takes her class on a field trip to the now-abandoned Bedford, they're exposed to a deadly virus that transforms the infected into ravenous, flesh-eating monsters. Rather than stick to zombie lit convention (mindless undead, endless chases), Langan invests her plague with a sinister intelligence of unknown origin, maintaining a skin-crawling tension as the vivid cast of characters succumb to murderous insanity, hunting down and tearing apart animals, neighbors and loved ones. Langan has the control of a pro, parsing just enough horrific details to allow the truly gruesome scenes to play out unbound in the imagination; this solid sophomore effort proves that The Keeper's disturbing ability to burrow into readers' heads and stay there was no fluke. (Oct.)

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2008 (Best First Novel)
Heart-Shaped Box
 Joe Hill
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2008 (Best Nonfiction)
THE CRYPTOPEDIA: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange and Downright Bizarre
 Jonathan Maberry & David F. Kramer
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2007 (Best Novel)
Liseys Story
Click to search this book in our catalog   Stephen King
Library Journal: Starred Review. What legacy, besides $20 million and stacks of memorabilia, can a famous Maine writer of horror tales leave his widow after 25 years of marriage? When Lisey Landon is terrorized by one of her late husband's crazed fans as she tries to cope with her sister's rapidly deteriorating mental state, she finds that her only salvation lies in finally working through the maze of memories she and her husband, Scott, constructed. King, often at his most powerful when exploring grief (e.g., Pet Sematary, Bag of Bones), takes readers on a roller-coaster ride through the artifacts of a marriage that bonded a creative genius to a woman who was able to save him from himself for a quarter of a century. In the end, Lisey's deliverance comes from the lessons she learned during those years, and the peace she makes with her own world is rooted in the strength she gained from the process. There is little doubt that, in its monster-strewn, pop culture–laden way, this is also Stevie's Story. An essential addition to all King collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/06.]—Nancy McNicol, Ora Mason Branch Lib., West Haven, CT—Nancy McNicol, Ora Mason Branch Lib., West Haven, CT Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Following King's triumphant return to the world of gory horror in Cell, the bestselling author proves he's still the master of supernatural suspense in this minimally bloody but disturbing and sorrowful love story set in rural Maine. Lisey's husband, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Scott Landon, has been dead for two years at the book's start, but his presence is felt on every page. Lisey hears him so often in her head that when her catatonic sister, Amanda, begins speaking to her with Scott's voice, she finds it not so much unbelievable as inevitable. Soon she's following a trail of clues that lead her to Scott's horrifying childhood and the eerie world called Boo'ya Moon, all while trying to help Amanda and avoid a murderous stalker. Both a metaphor for coming to terms with grief and a self-referencing parable of the writer's craft, this novel answers the question King posed 25 years ago in his tale "The Reach": yes, the dead do love. (Oct.)

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2007 (Best First Novel)
Ghost Road Blues
Click to search this book in our catalog   Jonathan Maberry
Publishers Weekly: Maberry supplies plenty of chills, both Earth-bound and otherworldly, in this atmospheric horror novel, the first of a trilogy. Thirty years after the citizens of Pine Deep, Pa., killed the serial killer known as the Reaper, the town enjoys a quiet idyll and a tourist-friendly reputation as "the most haunted town in America." But gearing up for its annual Halloween celebration, the town is unprepared for the real haunts stirring in their corn fields, seeking to finish what the Reaper started. Switching among a large cast of characters, Maberry builds suspense by degrees, in the process exploring the community of Pine Deep. Showing his smalltown Americans at their worst—through domestic abuse, religious fanaticism and cowardice—Maberry proves how everyday, evening –news–grade sadism can dovetail neatly with capital-E Evil and the supernatural big guns that carry it out. This is horror on a grand scale, reminiscent of Stephen King's heftier works (The Stand, Needful Things) and just as dense with detail; though it simmers a bit too long, and the payoff doesn't quite measure up, Maberry can be forgiven—as long as he fulfills his grisly promises in the sequel. (June)

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2007 (Best Nonfiction - tie)
Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die
Click to search this book in our catalog   Michael Largo
 
2007 (Best Nonfiction - tie)
Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romeros Vision of Hell on Earth
 Kim Paffenroth
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2006 (Best Novel - tie)
Creepers
 David Morrell
Library Journal: Why would a college history professor, three of his former students, and a reporter with questionable credentials willingly embark on a journey that requires them to lower themselves into a manhole on a late October night? Because they are, according to Morrell's (First Blood; Extreme Denial) latest offering, urban explorers known as "creepers." These modern-day adventurers spend countless hours crawling through storm drains, transit tunnels, and the like in search of abandoned vestiges of civilization: factories, brickworks, railway stations—even military bases. In the case here, it is a hotel built in 1901 by a wealthy eccentric. During this adventure, the group encounters not only the dangers of decaying structure, but also other less-than-scrupulous urban speleologists and, finally, a demented kidnapper. Despite Morrell's reputation for fast-paced action and the distinctive setting he has created here, the book's momentum slows from the implausibility of the situations invented solely for the sake of plot enhancement. Recommended to die-hard fans and curiosity seekers in larger public libraries.—Nancy McNicol, Ora Mason Branch Lib., West Haven, CT

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Publishers Weekly: Morrell takes a creative kind of breaking-and-entering as the premise for his latest thriller (after Nightscape), a gripping story that demands to be read in a single sitting. Disguising himself as a journalist, Frank Balenger, ex-U.S. Army Ranger and Iraqi war veteran, joins a group of "Creepers," also known as infiltrators, urban explorers or city speleologists—men and women who outfit themselves with caving gear to break into and explore buildings that have long been closed up and abandoned. Though what they're doing is technically illegal, participants pride themselves on never stealing or destroying anything they find at these sites. They take only photographs and aim to leave no footprints. Balenger joins a group of four: the leader, Professor Robert Conklin, high school teacher Vincent Vanelli and graduate students Rick and Cora Magill. This gang infiltrates the Paragon Hotel, an abandoned, seven-story, pyramidal Asbury Park, N.J., structure built in 1901 by eccentric, hemophiliac Morgan Carlisle. Balenger and the professor have a special agenda, but the others are there simply for the thrills. Things quickly begin to unravel in life-threatening ways once the intrepid infiltrators penetrate the building—they aren't the only ones creeping around the spooky hotel. Morrell delivers first-rate, suspenseful storytelling once again.

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2006 (Best Novel - tie)
Dread in the Beast
 Charlee Jacob
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2006 (Best First Novel)
Scarecrow Gods
Click to search this book in our catalog   Weston Ochse
2005 (Best Novel)
In the Night Room
Click to search this book in our catalog   Peter Straub
Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. In Black House, Straub and Stephen King wrote of "slippage," whereby the borders between reality and fantasy blur. This entire brilliant novel is an act of slippage. In this sequel to last year's lost boy lost girl, and further chapter in the ongoing adventures of Straub protagonist Tim Underhill (Koko, etc.), the most intellectually adventurous of dark fantasy authors takes the apparent slippage of the prequel—in which Underhill's experience of a slain nephew's survival at the hands of a serial killer was indicated to be compensatory imagining by Underhill—several steps into the impressively weird. Underhill, an author, here encounters not the mere survival of a dead relation but the existence of a character he's creating in his journals. Dark fantasy cognescenti will remember that King employed a somewhat similar device in The Dark Half, but Straub's approach is distinctly his own, directed at mining the ambiguous relationship between nature and art, fact and fiction, the real and the ideal. The character Underhill has brought into being is Willy Bryce Patrick, a children's book author soon to be married to coldhearted financier Mitchell Faber, at least until Willy discovers that Faber had her first family murdered. Willy, whom Tim meets during a bookstore reading of his latest novel, lost boy lost girl, believes she is real (as does the reader for the book's first third), and learns otherwise only through Tim's painful, patient revelations. The two fall in deeply in love, but their passion seems doomed—not only is Willy's existence tenuous, but the pair are being pursued with murderous intent by Faber and his goons, as the former is in fact one form of the serial killer of lost boy lost girl, Joseph Kalendar; moreover, a terrible angel is insisting that only when Underhill makes an ultimate sacrifice, righting a wrong he did to Kalendar in lost boy lost girl, will matters resolve. Moving briskly while ranging from high humor to the blackest dread, this is an original, astonishingly smart and expertly entertaining meditation on imagination and its powers; one of the very finest works of Straub's long career, it's a sure bet for future award nominations.

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2005 (Best First Novel)
Covenant
Click to search this book in our catalog   John Everson
 
2005 (Young Readers - tie)
Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War
 Clive Barker
School Library Journal: Gr 7-10–In this sequel to Abarat(HarperCollins, 2002), Candy Quackenbush is fighting for her life in the mysterious world of the Abarat. The powers of darkness, Christopher Carrion and his murderous grandmother, Mater Motley, plan to overtake it and make it a world of perpetual midnight. As Candy and her friends rush through various adventures, Carrion's obsession with finding her grows, along with his rage and frustration. He hires the Criss-Cross Man, Otto Houlihan, to hunt Candy down. A group of adventurers, including John Mischief and his brothers, continues to look for dragon-hunting hero Finnegan Hob. Candy learns Abarat's history and begins to understand the role she may play in its future. This second title relies on exposition from the first; readers without that grounding may find themselves lost in Abarat's complications. The threads of the narrative take a long time to weave into a unified story, but it's worth the time it takes. With a large cast, a complicated plot, and such varied geography, Barker keeps readers busy juggling, but all that work pays off as the suspense and tension mount. Candy and her allies are engaging characters, if uncomplicated; Carrion and his grandmother are more mustache-twirling than interesting. The Abaratian world is the jewel of this novel, dense and vividly rendered in both striking description and Barker's vibrant artwork. Fans of the first book, as well as of other robust fantasy titles like Garth Nix's Sabriel (HarperCollins, 1996) and Diana Wynne Jones's Dark Lord of Derkholm (Greenwillow, 1998), will enjoy it.–Sarah Couri, New York Public Library

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2005 (Young Readers - tie)
Oddest Yet
 Steve Burt
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2004 (Best Novel)
Lost Boy Lost Girl
 Peter Straub
Library Journal: Straub brings back his writer hero Tim Underhill (Koko; The Throat) in a lightweight, occult horror mystery involving a suicide and a missing nephew. The story involves not one but two Jeffrey Dahmer-like serial killers who prey on teenage boys. The point of view oscillates between Tim Underhill, the investigator, and Mark Underhill, the lost boy. There is a haunted house, some ghosts, creepy moments, and an unusual ending that uses supernatural email and web pages. Compared with Straub's other works of horror, this is something of a minor diversion, but it is bound to be popular. Recommended for public and university libraries.-Ken St. Andre, Phoenix P.L.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: For its high artistry and uncanny mix of dread and hope, Straub's 16th novel, his shortest in decades, reaffirms the author's standing as the most literate and, with his occasional coauthor Stephen King, most persuasive of contemporary novelists of the dark fantastic. This brilliant variation on the haunted house tale distills themes and characters from Straub's long career, including two of the author's most popular creations: Manhattan novelist Tim Underhill (from Koko, Mystery and The Throat) and Tim's friend, legendary private detective Tom Pasmore (from Mystery and The Throat). Written from multiple viewpoints, the narrative shuttles disturbingly through time and space as Tim travels home to Millhaven, Ill., to attend the funeral for his sister-in-law, a suicide. In that small city based loosely on Straub's hometown of Milwaukee, Tim spends time with his callow widowed brother, Philip, and his nephew, sensitive Mark, 15, who found his mother's naked body in the bathtub, wrists slit and a plastic bag over her head. Meanwhile, a serial killer is snatching teen boys from a local park, and Mark and his sidekick, Jimbo, begin to explore a nearby abandoned house. Mark grows obsessed with the house, eventually revealed as the rotting source of the evil that stalks Millhaven, but also as the harbor of a great marvel. When Mark disappears, Tim pursues his trail and, with Tom Pasmore's help, that of the serial killer who may have taken the boy away. Straub remains a master of place and character; his insight into teens, in particular, is astonishingly astute. His myriad narrative framings allow multiple interpretations of events, making this story work on many levels, yet they also increase the urgency of the story, up to its incandescent ending. With great compassion and in prose as supple as mink, Straub has created an exciting, fearful, wondrous tale about people who matter, in one of his finest books to date.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2004 (Best First Novel)
The Rising
Click to search this book in our catalog   Brian Keene
Library Journal: The world has changed and the dead are rising up as intelligent zombies. Jim Thurmond, one of the few living humans, goes on a frantic journey across the country to save his son. Aided in his quest by a former prostitute, an ex-preacher, and a scientist driven by guilt, he travels through a broken landscape of once-human monsters. Not for the squeamish, this title by the author of No Rest for the Wicked is a marginal purchase for horror collections. Illustrations not seen.

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2004 (Young Readers)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Click to search this book in our catalog   J.K. Rowling
Publishers Weekly: Year five at Hogwarts is no fun for Harry. Rowling may be relying upon readers to have solidified their liking for her hero in the first four books, because the 15-year-old Harry Potter they meet here is quite dour after a summer at the Dursleys' house on Privet Drive, with no word from pals Hermione or Ron. When he reunites with them at last, he learns that The Daily Prophet has launched a smear campaign to discredit Harry's and Dumbledore's report of Voldemort's reappearance at the end of book four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Aside from an early skirmish with a pair of dementors, in which Harry finds himself in the position of defending not only himself but his dreaded cousin, Dudley, there is little action until the end of these nearly 900 pages. A hateful woman from the Ministry of Magic, Dolores Umbridge (who, along with minister Cornelius Fudge nearly succeeds in expelling Harry from Hogwarts before the start of the school year) overtakes Hogwarts-GrandPrE's toadlike portrait of her is priceless-and makes life even more miserable for him. She bans him from the Quidditch team (resulting in minimal action on the pitch) and keeps a tight watch on him. And Harry's romance when his crush from the last book, Cho Chang, turns out to be a major waterworks (she cries when she's happy, she cries shen she's sad). Readers get to discover the purpose behind the Order of the Phoenix and more is revealed of the connection between Harry and You-Know-Who. But the showdown between Harry and Voldemort feels curiously anticlimactic after the stunning clash at the close of book four. Rowling favors psychological development over plot development here, skillfully exploring the effects of Harry's fall from popularity and the often isolating feelings of adolescence. Harry suffers a loss and learns some unpleasant truths about his father, which result in his compassion for some unlikely characters. (The author also draws some insightful parallels between the Ministry's exercise of power and the current political climate.) As hope blooms at story's end, those who have followed Harry thus far will be every bit as eager to discover what happens to him in his sixth and seventh years. Ages 9-12.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal: Gr 4 Up-Harry has just returned to Hogwarts after a lonely summer. Dumbledore is uncommunicative and most of the students seem to think Harry is either conceited or crazy for insisting that Voldemort is back and as evil as ever. Angry, scared, and unable to confide in his godfather, Sirius, the teen wizard lashes out at his friends and enemies alike. The head of the Ministry of Magic is determined to discredit Dumbledore and undermine his leadership of Hogwarts, and he appoints nasty, pink-cardigan-clad Professor Umbridge as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and High Inquisitor of the school, bringing misery upon staff and students alike. This bureaucratic nightmare, added to Harry's certain knowledge that Voldemort is becoming more powerful, creates a desperate, Kafkaesque feeling during Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. The adults all seem evil, misguided, or simply powerless, so the students must take matters into their own hands. Harry's confusion about his godfather and father, and his apparent rejection by Dumbledore make him question his own motives and the condition of his soul. Also, Harry is now 15, and the hormones are beginning to kick in. There are a lot of secret doings, a little romance, and very little Quidditch or Hagrid (more reasons for Harry's gloom), but the power of this book comes from the young magician's struggles with his emotions and identity. Particularly moving is the unveiling, after a final devastating tragedy, of Dumbledore's very strong feelings of attachment and responsibility toward Harry. Children will enjoy the magic and the Hogwarts mystique, and young adult readers will find a rich and compelling coming-of-age story as well.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

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2003 (Best Novel)
The Night Class
Click to search this book in our catalog   Tom Piccirilli
 
2003 (Best First Novel)
The Lovely Bones
 Alice Sebold
Library Journal : Sebold, whose previous book, Lucky, told of her own rape and the subsequent trial of her attacker, here offers a powerful first novel, narrated by Susie Salmon, in heaven. Brutally raped and murdered by a deceptively mild-mannered neighbor, Susie begins with a compelling description of her death. During the next ten years, she watches over her family and friends as they struggle to cope with her murder. She observes their disintegrating lives with compassion and occasionally attempts, sometimes successfully, to communicate her love to them. Although the lives of all who knew her well are shaped by her tragic death, eventually her family and friends survive their pain and grief. In Sebold's heaven, Susie continues to grow emotionally. She learns that human existence is "the helplessness of being alive, the dark bright pity of being human feeling as you went, groping in corners and opening your arms to light all of it part of navigating the unknown." Sebold's compelling and sometimes poetic prose style and unsparing vision transform Susie's tragedy into an ultimately rewarding novel. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.

Cheryl L. Conway, Univ. of Arkansas Lib., Fayetteville Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : Sebold's first novel after her memoir, Lucky is a small but far from minor miracle. Sebold has taken a grim, media-exploited subject and fashioned from it a story that is both tragic and full of light and grace. The novel begins swiftly. In the second sentence, Sebold's narrator, Susie Salmon, announces, "I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Susie is taking a shortcut through a cornfield when a neighbor lures her to his hideaway. The description of the crime is chilling, but never vulgar, and Sebold maintains this delicate balance between homely and horrid as she depicts the progress of grief for Susie's family and friends. She captures the odd alliances forged and the relationships ruined: the shattered father who buries his sadness trying to gather evidence, the mother who escapes "her ruined heart, in merciful adultery." At the same time, Sebold brings to life an entire suburban community, from the mortician's son to the handsome biker dropout who quietly helps investigate Susie's murder. Much as this novel is about "the lovely bones" growing around Susie's absence, it is also full of suspense and written in lithe, resilient prose that by itself delights. Sebold's most dazzling stroke, among many bold ones, is to narrate the story from Susie's heaven (a place where wishing is having), providing the warmth of a first-person narration and the freedom of an omniscient one. It might be this that gives Sebold's novel its special flavor, for in Susie's every observation and memory of the smell of skunk or the touch of spider webs is the reminder that life is sweet and funny and surprising.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Adult/High School-"I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973," says Susie Salmon in this intriguing novel. Teens will immediately be drawn into this account of a girl who was raped and killed, and tells her story from "heaven." She realizes gradually that she is in an interim heaven until she can let go of her earthly concerns. The place is like school with Seventeen for a textbook and no teachers. On Earth, her mother needs to leave the family for a time, her sister seems to have Susie constantly in her thoughts, her young brother grows into a pensive preteen, and her grief-stricken father spends much of his time seeking out the murderer, even after it seems that the police have given up. The narrator observes the disparate ways her family and friends cope, and finally sees that they are resolving their grief as "the lovely bones" of their lives knit themselves around the empty space that was her life. While the subject matter is grim, the telling is light and frequently humorous-Susie remains 14 even though 8 years pass in the other characters' lives. This novel will encourage discussion. There is a slight feeling of magical realism, but there is grounding in real adolescence.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA

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2003 (Young Readers)
Coraline
 Neil Gaiman
Publishers Weekly : British novelist Gaiman (American Gods; Stardust) and his long-time accomplice McKean (collaborators on a number of Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels as well as The Day I Swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish) spin an electrifyingly creepy tale likely to haunt young readers for many moons. After Coraline and her parents move into an old house, Coraline asks her mother about a mysterious locked door. Her mother unlocks it to reveal that it leads nowhere: "When they turned the house into flats, they simply bricked it up," her mother explains. But something about the door attracts the girl, and when she later unlocks it herself, the bricks have disappeared. Through the door, she travels a dark corridor (which smells "like something very old and very slow") into a world that eerily mimics her own, but with sinister differences. "I'm your other mother," announces a woman who looks like Coraline's mother, except "her eyes were big black buttons." Coraline eventually makes it back to her real home only to find that her parents are missing--they're trapped in the shadowy other world, of course, and it's up to their scrappy daughter to save them. Gaiman twines his taut tale with a menacing tone and crisp prose fraught with memorable imagery ("Her other mother's hand scuttled off Coraline's shoulder like a frightened spider"), yet keeps the narrative just this side of terrifying. The imagery adds layers of psychological complexity (the button eyes of the characters in the other world vs. the heroine's increasing ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not; elements of Coraline's dreams that inform her waking decisions). McKean's scratchy, angular drawings, reminiscent of Victorian etchings, add an ominous edge that helps ensure this book will be a real bedtime-buster. Ages 8-up.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 6-8-When Coraline and her parents move into a new house, she notices a mysterious, closed-off door. It originally went to another part of the house, which her family does not own. Some rather eccentric neighbors call her Caroline and seem not to understand her very well, yet they have information for her that will later prove vital. Bored, she investigates the door, which takes her into an alternate reality. There she meets her "other" mother and father. They are very nice to her, which pleases Coraline but also makes her a little suspicious. Her neighbors are in this other world, and they are the same, yet somehow different. When Coraline gets nervous and returns home, her parents are gone. With the help of a talking cat, she figures out that they are being held prisoner by her other parents, as are the souls of some long-lost children. Coraline's plan to rescue them involves, among other things, making a risky bargain with her other mother whose true nature is beginning to show. The rest of the story is a suspense-filled roller coaster, and the horror is all the more frightening for being slightly understated. A droll humor is present in some of the scenes, and the writing is simple yet laden with foreboding. The story is odd, strange, even slightly bizarre, but kids will hang on every word. Coraline is a character with whom they will surely identify, and they will love being frightened out of their shoes. This is just right for all those requests for a scary book.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC

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2002 (Best Novel)
American Gods
 Neil Gaiman
Library Journal : In his latest novel, Gaiman (Neverwhere) explores the vast and bloody landscape of myths and legends where the gods of yore and the neoteric gods of now conflict in modern-day America. The antihero, a man of unusually acute intellect through whose eyes we witness the behind-the-scenes dynamics of human religion and faith, is a convict called Shadow. He is flung into the midst of a supernatural fray of gods such as Odin, Anansi, Loki One-Eye, Thor, and a multitude of other ancient divinities as they struggle for survival in an America beset by trends, fads, and constant upheaval an environment not good for gods. They are joined in this struggle by such contemporary deities as the geek-boy god Internet and the goddess Media. There's a nice plot twist in the end, and the fascinating subject matter and impressive mythic scope are handled creatively and expertly. Gaiman is an exemplary short story writer, but his ventures into novels are also compellingly imaginative. Highly recommended for all libraries. Ann Kim, "Library Journal"

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : Titans clash, but with more fuss than fury in this fantasy demi-epic from the author of Neverwhere. The intriguing premise of Gaiman's tale is that the gods of European yore, who came to North America with their immigrant believers, are squaring off for a rumble with new indigenous deities: "gods of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon." They all walk around in mufti, disguised as ordinary people, which causes no end of trouble for 32-year-old protagonist Shadow Moon, who can't turn around without bumping into a minor divinity. Released from prison the day after his beloved wife dies in a car accident, Shadow takes a job as emissary for Mr. Wednesday, avatar of the Norse god Grimnir, unaware that his boss's recruiting trip across the American heartland will subject him to repeat visits from the reanimated corpse of his dead wife and brutal roughing up by the goons of Wednesday's adversary, Mr. World. At last Shadow must reevaluate his own deeply held beliefs in order to determine his crucial role in the final showdown. Gaiman tries to keep the magical and the mundane evenly balanced, but he is clearly more interested in the activities of his human protagonists: Shadow's poignant personal moments and the tale's affectionate slices of smalltown life are much better developed than the aimless plot, which bounces Shadow from one episodic encounter to another in a design only the gods seem to know. Mere mortal readers will enjoy the tale's wit, but puzzle over its strained mythopoeia. (One-day laydown, June 19)Forecast: Even when he isn't in top form, Gaiman, creator of the acclaimed Sandman comics series, trumps many storytellers. Momentously titled, and allotted a dramatic one-day laydown with a 12-city author tour, his latest will appeal to fans and attract mainstream review coverage for better or for worse because of the rich possibilities of its premise.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2002 (Best First Novel)
Deadliest of the Species
Click to search this book in our catalog   Michael Oliveri
2002 (Young Readers)
The Willow Files
Click to search this book in our catalog   Yvonne Navarro
2001 (Best Novel)
The Traveling Vampire Show
Click to search this book in our catalog   Richard Laymon
Library Journal : In the latest novel from Laymon (The Midnight Tour), 16-year-old Dwight and his two pals, male Rusty and female Slim, decide to add some excitement to an otherwise boring summer day in 1963 by sneaking into "The Traveling Vampire Show." This adults-only act, featuring "Valeria, the only known vampire in captivity," is visiting their rural town of Grandville for just one night. Dwight narrates the events of that day, all the way through to the terrifying finale. The three friends are for the most part typical teens, but they are tested that day in ways none of them could ever have imagined. Although the protagonists are high school age, this novel is so replete with graphic sexual situations and violence that it would not be suitable for young adult collections. It is, however, a well-written story that will appeal to fans of horror fiction. Recommended for large public libraries.

Patricia Altner, Information Seekers, Bowie, MD Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001 (Best First Novel)
The Licking Valley Coon Hunters Club
 Brian A. Hopkins
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2001 (Young Readers)
The Power of Un
 Nancy Etchemendy
School Library Journal : Gr 4-8-Who wouldn't want the ability to undo a mistake, an accident, or even a tragedy, after it happens? Once he has the Unner, a makeshift creation of old parts and electronic gizmos, middle-schooler Gib Finney has that power, but first he has to figure out how to use it. His practice time is suddenly cut short when his little sister is hit by a truck and ends up in a life-threatening coma. If the Unner really works, it could save Roxy's life, but there could be far-reaching consequences to rearranging links on the chain of time, and Gib is just beginning to realize how interconnected they are. The setting could be any small town in America, some decades ago. Most of the characters neatly fit stereotypes common to such settings-the happy nuclear family, loyal best friend, mysterious carnival fortune-teller, and more. While Gib is the only fully developed character, the unique and interesting plot featuring a practical look at the possibilities and results of planned time travel make up for the otherwise shallow characterizations. As the story gathers speed, suspense builds to a surprising and satisfying conclusion with room for more than one sequel. The book's themes and plot twists take it beyond the conventional, resulting in a delightfully thought-provoking science-fiction story.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2000 (Best Novel)
Mr. X.
 Peter Straub
Library Journal : The "Mr. X" of the title is the shade that seems to follow Ned Dunstan through life. Ned is the only son of Star, a part-time lounge singer and itinerant artist who comes from an unusually talented family. As Ned states early on in the book, he was always looking for his shadow. He doesn't know his father growing up but learns the truth about him in the course of the book. What Ned eventually finds is the crux of the plot--suffice it to say that his discoveries are unsettling. Mr. X proves that Straub (The Hellfire Club) is worthy of his reputation as a master of horror. Compelling writing and well-drawn characters make this novel very readable, but the labyrinthine plot seems forced; it does include some sexual situations and some violence. Recommended for all suspense/ horror collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/99.]--Alicia Graybill, Lincoln City Libs., NE

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : Since the publication of Koko in 1988, Straub has specialized in macabre mysteries dense with the details of small-town life and cast with ordinary people who find that the extraordinary crimes they investigate raise doubts about their own moral integrity. In this bravura new outing, he returns to his horror roots, lacing an ingenious whodunit with an intoxicating shot of the supernatural. From childhood, Ned Dunstan has experienced precognitive visions, a recurring dream of being tethered to a shadow and "the sense that something crucially significant, something without which I could never be whole, was missing." Summoned home to Edgerton, Ill., by a premonition of his mother's death on the eve of his 35th birthday, Ned finds himself implicated in a tangle of felonies and murders, all of which point to someone strenuously manipulating events to frame him. Digging into local history, he finds reason to believe that the mysterious father he never knew, or possibly a malignant doppelg nger, are pulling the strings. Meanwhile, Mr. X, a homicidal misanthrope who reads H.P. Lovecraft's otherworldly horror fiction as gospel, cuts a swath of supernatural destruction across the country, en route to a showdown with his son, the "shadow-self" whom he must annihilate. Discerning readers will recognize this surprise-filled tale of tortuous family relationships as a modern variation on Lovecraft's classic shocker "The Dunwich Horror." But Straub turns his pulp model inside out, transforming its vast cosmic mystery into an ingrown odyssey of self-discovery and a probing study of human nature. His evocative prose, a seamless splice of clipped hard-boiled banter and poetic reflection, contributes to the thick atmosphere of apprehension that makes this one of the most invigorating horror reads of the year. BOMC main selection. (Aug.) FYI: This spring, Subterranean Press published a chapbook, Peter and PTR: Two Discarded Prefaces and an Introduction, that includes framing material that Straub wrote for, and then cut from, Mr. X.

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2000 (Best First Novel)
Wither
Click to search this book in our catalog   J.G. Passarella
Library Journal : In the historic town of Winfield, MA, a cyclical evil arises to feed its thirst and seek hosts for a new incarnation, drawing the townspeople into a nightmare of blood and terror. Passarella's tale of the struggle between white and black magic combines scenes of graphic violence with psychological terror in a blend that should appeal to fans of the genre. Sympathetic male and female protagonists add depth and emotional impact, making this title a good choice for most horror collections.

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : Sabrina the Teenage Witch goes to college in this atmospheric, generally suspenseful horror story. Wendy Ward is a white magic practitioner who dresses in shades of black, and an unconventional freshman at exclusive Danfield College in Massachusetts, where her father is president. Windale, the town where Danfield is located, has been promoting its past persecution of witches as a tourist draw, hoping to cash in on the popularity of nearby Salem. On the eve of the King Frost Halloween Parade, Wendy performs an empowering ritual that goes awry, unleashing dark forces hundreds of years old. Three murderous Macbethian witches, led by the semi-immortal Elizabeth Wither, begin to haunt Wendy's dreams, as well as those of a pregnant English professor and an eight-year-old girl. As it becomes apparent that there is a curse on Windale, Wendy desperately attempts to reverse what she's started and finds herself drawn ineluctably toward the evil she's trying to control. While the authentic arcana of witchcraft provides background, the plot is derivative, with hints of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist. Yet the college setting adds an interesting dimension, and the characters are nicely delineated. Although this unusual mix of horror story, thriller and college romance is likely to draw protests from serious followers of ancient wicca rites, readers who savor supernatural menace will enjoy its edge. (Feb.) FYI: J.G. Passarella is the pseudonym for two Hollywood writers.

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2000 (Young Readers)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Click to search this book in our catalog   J.K. Rowling
Publishers Weekly : Rowling proves that she has plenty of tricks left up her sleeve in this third Harry Potter adventure, set once again at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Right before the start of term, a supremely dangerous criminal breaks out of a supposedly impregnable wizards' prison; it will come as no surprise to Potter fans that the villain, a henchman of Harry's old enemy Lord Voldemort, appears to have targeted Harry. In many ways this installment seems to serve a transitional role in the seven-volume series: while many of the adventures are breathlessly relayed, they appear to be laying groundwork for even more exciting adventures to come. The beauty here lies in the genius of Rowling's plotting. Seemingly minor details established in books one and two unfold to take on unforeseen significance, and the finale, while not airtight in its internal logic, is utterly thrilling. Rowling's wit never flags, whether constructing the workings of the wizard world (Just how would a magician be made to stay behind bars?) or tossing off quick jokes (a grandmother wears a hat decorated with a stuffed vulture; the divination classroom looks like a tawdry tea shop). The Potter spell is holding strong. All ages.

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 4-8-Isn't it reassuring that some things just get better and better? Harry is back and in fine form in the third installment of his adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His summer with the hideous Dursley family is cut short when, during a fit of quite understandable rage, he turns his Aunt Marge into an enormous balloon and then runs away. Soon, it becomes quite apparent that someone is trying to kill him; even after Harry is ensconed in the safety of fall term at Hogwarts, the attacks continue. Myriad subplots involving a new teacher with a secret, Hermione's strangely heavy class schedule, and enmity between Ron's old rat, Scabbers, and Hermione's new cat, Crookshanks, all mesh to create a stunning climax. The pace is nonstop, with thrilling games of Quidditch, terrifying Omens of Death, some skillful time travel, and lots of slimy Slytherins sneaking about causing trouble. This is a fabulously entertaining read that will have Harry Potter fans cheering for more.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1999 (Best Novel)
Bag of Bones
Click to search this book in our catalog   Stephen King
Library Journal : King's first novel with new publisher Scribner is a traditional ghost story that proves heavier on sentiment and a bit lighter on horror than most of his previous work. At the novel's outset, we find best-selling suspense novelist Mike Noonan (a self-described "V.C. Andrews with a prick") mourning the untimely death of his wife. Plagued by vivid nightmares, writer's block, and ghostly visitations, Noonan nonetheless becomes willingly involved in a bitter custody dispute between a beautiful young woman and a wealthy computer magnate. All is not as it seems, however, and Noonan soon finds himself and his charges pawns of forces seeking revenge for an unspeakable, century-old crime. In typical King fashion, the narrative is sprinkled with coy references to characters from previous novels. Although not as entertaining as Desperation (Viking, 1996), Bag of Bones is tightly plotted, and King orchestrates the rising tension with the deft touch of a maestro. Needless to say, this will fly off the shelves of popular collections. [BOMC main selection; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/98.]--Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : Carrying galley copy that avoids the h(orror) word while touting its "O. Henry Award-winning author," King's latest novel features a marketing campaign in accord with the distinguished pedigree of his new publisher. But has King written a book that ranks him as a literary heavyweight? Indeed he has, though not by forsaking his roots: the novel is a classic ghost story. It opens quietly as narrator Mike Noonan, 40, bestselling author of romantic suspense potboilers (and latest in a line of King novelist-heroes, cf. Misery and The Dark Half) describes the death of his wife four years back and his consequent grief and writer's block. Mike has kept the block hidden from the publishing world--limned in delicious detail, with real names--by annually pulling one of his own, unpublished mss. from a safe-deposit box. Now that he's out of old novels to submit, he resolves to work through his troubles at Sara Laughs, his country house in backwoods Maine. Arriving there, Mike nearly drives over a three-year-old girl. She is Kyra, granddaughter--by way of beautiful young widow Mattie--of mad computer mogul Max Devore, who is hellbent on snatching the girl from her mother. Taking up Kyra's cause, falling in love with Mattie, Mike gears up for a custody battle. Invigorated, he breaks through his writer's block; but great danger, psychological and physical, awaits, from Max Devore but especially from the spirits, mostly malevolent, that haunt Sara Laughs due to hideous crimes committed by Devore's ancestor a century earlier. Violence, natural and supernatural, ensues as past and present mix, culminating in a torrent of climaxes that bind and illuminate the novel's many mysteries. From his mint-fresh etching of spooky rural Maine to his masterful pacing and deft handling of numerous themes, particularly of the fragility of our constructs about reality and of love's ability to mend rifts in those constructs, this is one of King's most accomplished novels. It is his most personal as well, revealing through Mike's broodings the intimacies of the creative writing process: a passionate gift from a veteran author to all who care about the art and craft of storytelling. 1.26 million first printing; BOMC main selection (Sept.) FYI: Bag of Bones is the only hardcover Scribner will publish in September.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1999 (Best First Novel)
Night Prayers
 P.D. Cacek
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1999 (Young Readers)
Hungry Ghosts
 Ellen Steiber
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1998 (Best Novel)
Children of the Dusk
 Janet Berliner
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1998 (Best First Novel)
Lives of the Monster Dogs
Click to search this book in our catalog   Kristen Bakis
Library Journal : A clever, compelling Frankenstein story for the millennium, Bakis's first novel draws the reader into an improbable near-future phenomenon and makes it beguilingly real. In 1897 German scientist Augustus Rank flees with his followers to a remote Canadian location, where they labor in secret toward Rank's dream of engineering an advanced race of soldier dogs. A century later, the dogs are perfected--natural but hyperintelligent canines fitted with voice-boxes and prosthetic hands, trained in human pursuits and standing erect. They revolt, destroy their makers, and, dressed in 19th-century formal wear, find their way to 21st-century New York City. This book is the story of New York's experience of these now-peaceful marvels, of their history and misleading glamor, and, particularly, of the relationship between human narrator Cleo Pira and the wise and troubled canine historian, Ludwig von Sacher. This classic monster story, tragic and philosophical, is simply marvelous. A poised and accomplished debut; highly recommended.

Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publisher's Weekly : Cosmopolitan Manhattan of 2008 embraces a new breed of immigrant in this weird, fanciful tale of surgically enhanced, talking, bionic canines out on the town as they search for their history and place in the world. Conceived by 19th-century Prussian mad scientist Augustus Rank as an army of superior, fiercely loyal dog soldiers, the monster Pinschers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dobermans and other sturdy breeds became fully empowered only many years after his death. Rank's followers, secluded in a remote Canadian village, continued his work, ultimately developing a race of super-intelligent, longer-living dogs trained from birth to use surgically attached mechanical hands, speak fluent German via a mechanical voice box, walk erect and dress in the elegant human fashions of the 1880s. NYU student Cleo Pira develops friendships with a few of the dogs in New York and becomes their liaison to the human press, writing insider articles for Vanity Fair and other chic magazines. Cleo narrates the novel, incorporating excerpts from the papers of Ludwig Von Sacher, the dogs' historian. First-novelist Bakis holds the reader in thrall for much of her imaginative tale, but, disappointingly, the dogs never emerge as strong characters. Though the reader gains some understanding of Ludwig through his writing, Cleo's conversations with the dogs are uniformly abrupt and anti-climactic. Instead, Bakis offers more of a dream vision that, ultimately, might be all in Cleo's head. Fortunately, that vision is engaging in its own right and, through Bakis's storytelling skill, makes for an audacious, intriguing and ultimately haunting debut.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1997 (Best Novel)
The Green Mile
Click to search this book in our catalog   Stephen King
1997 (Best First Novel)
Crota
Click to search this book in our catalog   Owl Goingback
Publisher's Weekly : The energy of a grade-B monster movie pervades Goingback's debut novel. So do that genre's cliches, including the tired theme of the Indian curse. When Hobbs County, Mo., is besieged by the Crota-a brain-munching, bone-crunching bogey of Creek mythology-familiar characters surface: Jay Little Hawk, the Native American game warden who knows the creature's history and vulnerabilities; Skip Harding, the local sheriff whose reacquaintance with his own Native American roots is the linchpin for defeating the Crota; and a host of faceless types who appear just long enough to become the monster's prey. Goingback puts all of them through predictable paces in a novel that's little more than a standard chase-and-capture scenario played out above and below the ground of the small town of Logan. The narrative high points are the accounts of Indian history and legend, which have the flavor of the authentic oral tradition. These clash with descriptive prose that would have been stale in the days of the pulps (a stewardess has "a pair of legs that seemed to go on forever"), but Goingback keeps the action brisk and knows where to put the necessary lucky coincidence or happy twist to distract readers from his tale's unwavering simplicity.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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