Historical from Goodwin, a sf Collaboration by Horowitz & Others, Gothic Makkai, & More | Fiction Reviews

redstarGoodwin, Daisy. The Fortune Hunter. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9781250043894. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466842243. F

Fortune HunterDespite Charlotte Baird’s unconventional devotion to photography and her lack of beauty, she has many suitors because of the fortune she will inherit. Her brother’s fiancée wants Charlotte’s marriage to enhance the family’s social standing. Enter Bay Middleton, renowned for his success with both horses and women despite his lack of money or title. Is he merely another fortune hunter, or does he value her other attributes? Charlotte and Bay’s complex relationship drives the plot, which becomes more complicated when Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) of Austria comes to England to escape Vienna’s stifling court life and pursue her passion for hunting. Serving as Sisi’s pilot on hunts, Bay admires both her superb riding skills and her beauty. Eventually they become lovers but never equals. VERDICT Goodwin uses finely drawn characters and intriguing plot lines to create numerous memorable scenes such as when the empress, accompanied by Bay, visits and exchanges polite but pointed barbs with Queen Victoria. Although readers who enjoyed The American Heiress will be first in line to savor Goodwin’s new novel, they will be followed quickly by others who appreciate engaging and thoughtful historical fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 1/26/14.]—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato

Hall, Rachel Howzell. Land of Shadows. Forge. Jun. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780765336354. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466828193. F

landofshadows2060314Lou Norton’s life changed irrevocably the day her older sister went missing from their Los Angeles ghetto neighborhood. Decades have passed, but Norton, now a homicide detective with the LAPD, is still haunted by and fixated on the unsolved crime. When Lou is called to her old neighborhood to investigate the death of a young girl, she becomes convinced that the crime was committed by the same person who took her sister so long ago. Grappling with searing memories of her childhood, as well as dealing with her charming yet cheating spouse, Lou confronts the realities of her past along with her present. Hall’s (A Quiet Storm) promising series debut introduces a black, female lead in the male-dominated world of the LAPD. The author has fun playing with stereotypes and has developed a strong and likable protagonist. The story shines during Lou’s flashbacks to her childhood, which are filled with heart-wrenching memories that make the wisecracking detective more accessible. However, the chapters narrated by the killer slow the momentum and create some bumpy transitions. ­VERDICT Recommended for libraries with a strong following for police procedurals and a welcome addition for collections seeking more diverse characters in the mystery genre. [Previewed in Kristi ­Chadwick’s “Pushing Boundaries” feature, LJ 4/15/13.]—Amy Nolan, St. Joseph, MI

redstarHorowitz, Eli & others. The Silent History. Farrar. Jun. 2014. 528p. ISBN 9780374534479. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780374710941. F

The Silent historyThis is billed as “a new kind of novel,” and it’s true. Started as an interactive online reading experience back in 2012, the former app is now available in traditional printed format. How does such a previously visual narrative translate into a 500-plus page book? Quite well, if you don’t mind the multitude of voices. A collaboration between ­Horowitz (formerly McSweeney’s editor/publisher), Kevin Moffett (Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events), and Matthew Derby (Super Flat Times), the sf story is set in the nearish future wherein children are born “unable to create or comprehend language,” with the chapters consisting of short testimonials from across America during the years 2012–41. The narrative is paced like a thriller, and the writers do a bang-up job of immersing you in this strange version of America. The prose is deft: “In the end, the pile of things we could carry was small. What of the old life was worth the effort to carry around? The answer was always less than what I’d predicted.” VERDICT The online version doesn’t compete with the novel, and the experiment succeeds wildly here. Readers of literary page-turners will relish.—Travis Fristoe, Alachua Cty. Lib. Dist., Gainesville, FL

redstarMakkai, Rebecca. The Hundred-Year House. Viking. Jul. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780525426684. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698163546. F

Hundred Year HouseMakkai’s second novel is decidedly not sophomoric; it’s a daring takeoff from her entertaining debut, The Borrower. Beginning in 1999 and retreating backward in time to 1900, it chronicles a century in the life of Laurelfield, an estate near Lake Michigan, north of Chicago. The author opens with the ghost story of Violet ­Devohr, who allegedly killed herself in the attic. Now Zee, Violet’s great-granddaughter, is slowly going mad herself. The book takes off in subsequent chapters, and we see how Violet’s ghost—or maybe the house itself—affected its inhabitants, many of whom visited for extended periods when Laurelfield served as an artists’ colony from the 1930s to the 1950s. Slowly, readers get more clues about the mystery at the book’s core, understanding the characters’ interconnections. ­VERDICT This novel is stunning: ambitious, readable, and intriguing. Its gothic elements, complexity, and plot twists are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. Chilling and thoroughly enjoyable. [See Prepub Alert, 1/10/14.]—Christine Perkins, Whatcom Cty. Lib. Syst., Bellingham, WA

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
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Barker, Raffaella. From a Distance. Bloomsbury USA. Jul. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781620403341. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781620403358. F

Beauman, Sally. The Visitors. Harper. Jul. 2014. 544p. ISBN 9780062302687. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062302717. F

Eastland, Sam. The Beast in the Red Forest: An Inspector Pekkala Novel of Suspense. Opus. Aug. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781623160494. $22.95. F

Frank, Dorothea Benton. The Hurricane Sisters. Morrow. Jun. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780062132529. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062132536. F

Fuller, Samuel. Brainquake. Hard Case Crime: Titan. Sept. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781781168196. pap. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9781781168202. F

Furst, Alan. Midnight in Europe. Random. Jun. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781400069491. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780679604235. F

Gardiner, Meg. Phantom Instinct. Dutton.Jun. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780525954316. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698157132. F

Goodman, Lee. Indefensible. Emily Bestler: Atria. Jun. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9781476728001. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476728025. F

Iggulden, Conn. Wars of the Roses: Stormbird. Putnam. Jul. 2014. 496p. ISBN 9780399165368. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101622940. F

Jacob, Mira. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. Random. Jul. 2014. 512p.ISBN 9780812994780. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780812994797. F

Jones, Stephen Lloyd. The String Diaries. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Jul. 2014.

432p. ISBN 9780316254465. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316254441. F

Mapson, Jo-Ann. Owen’s Daughter. Bloomsbury USA. Jul. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781620401477. $26; pap. ISBN 9781620409732. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781620401484. F

Minato, Kanae. Confessions. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Aug. 2014. 240p. tr. from Japanese by Stephen Snyder. ISBN 9780316200929. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780316200912. F

Minier, Bernard. The Frozen Dead. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Aug. 2014. 496p. tr. from French by Alison Anderson. ISBN 9781250045539. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466844247. F

Patriau, Gustavo Faverón. The Antiquarian. Black Cat. Jun. 2014. 224p. tr. from Spanish by Joseph Mulligan. ISBN 9780802121608. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780802192851. F

Pelletier, Cathie. A Year After Henry. Sourcebooks Landmark. Aug. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781402296789. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402296796. F

Richards, Emilie. No River Too Wide. Mira: Harlequin. Jul. 2014. 496p. ISBN 9780778316343. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460330159. F

Roslund, Anders & Börge Hellström. Two Soldiers. Quercus. Jun. 2014. 624p. tr. from Swedish by Kari Dickson. ISBN 9781623651350. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781623651367. F

Siddons, Anne Rivers. The Girls of August. Grand Central. Jul. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9780446527958. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780446565844. F

Smith, Tom Robb. The Farm. Grand Central. Jun. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780446550734. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455555482. F

Stevens, Taylor. The Catch. Crown. Jul. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780385348935. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780385348942. F

Taylor, C.L. Before I Wake. Sourcebooks Landmark. Jun. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781402294181. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402294198. F

Thomas, Rosie. The Illusionists. Overlook. Jul. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9781468309904. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781468309911. F

White, Kate. Eyes on You. Harper. Jul. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780061576638. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062199201. F

Short Stories

Bomer, Paula. Inside Madeleine. Soho. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781616953096. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781616953102. F


This article was published in Library Journal's June 1, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.