(With apologies to Annie Proulx)
Special thanks to my sister-in-law, Jenny, for the B&N gift card that funded the purchase behind part of this week's shipment. Though my birthday was in October, I felt it important to wait for a few good buys (and coupons) to pop up. And lo, I found them:
*The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
*Countdown City by Ben H Winters
*My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
While those three arrived Monday, May 23, the week's real prize came the following day:
*The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
None of the authors, at this stage, are foreign to me.
I read THE LIBRARY AT MOUNT CHAR over the winter. It was a chance (real) library find, a case of a cover selling a book. After I and my wife tore through it, it was a foregone conclusion that we'd get our own copy soon enough. One could categorize it as science-fiction or (urban?) fantasy or horror; it sits at a crossroads, or happily exists outside of regular genres.
Concerned with a missing "god" of sorts and his tantalizing, up-for-grabs repository of knowledge/power (the titular library), LIBRARY tells a winding story that jumps back and forth along its timeline, teasing even with its revelations, peppered with shock-and-awe action, an enigmatic, compelling lead - all under the steady control of major new novelist, Scott Hawkins. There's no doubt I'll just buy his next book (sorry, DG Library).
COUNTDOWN CITY is the second in the Last Policeman trilogy. A comet is earthbound, with nothing to be done about it - no roughnecks in the wings (not wanting to miss a thing) waiting to blow it sky high. It will hit; Earth will suffer. Humanity...probably won't be in a good place for a few dozen centuries.
The first book followed the title character as he investigated a suicide - quite the commonplace event - that just seemed wrong to him. Whether I was just in the right place or Winters really does write that well, it ended up as one of the best mysteries I've read: tonally unique, with an earnest, atypical protagonist that could maybe only exist in this ten-minutes-to-midnight world. I have elevated expectations for the sequel.
How many authors write compelling furniture catalogs? Hendrix managed this in his breakthrough novel, Horrorstör, about a haunted Ikea-like store and the employees who, well, don't exactly do battle with the ghosts...but certainly do something, and do it humorously with mixed supernatural success.
MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM is "an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist," according to its own description. After Abby and Gretchen have a somewhat wild night, Abby realizes her best friend is not really herself. Or, she is...but she's also someone - or something - else, too.
Bonus: it's also another great piece of production design (like Horrorstör), with yearbook-like pages, clippings and notes here and there.
There's nothing more I can add to the praise about The Passage trilogy, by Justin Cronin, than what is floating around. It's really that good, people. You'll fly through the hundreds of pages, absorbed fully in his world, desperately wanting the story to go on and on.
The epic - set before, during and centuries after a vampire-like apocalypse - concludes in THE CITY OF MIRRORS. It's on-deck for me, as it should be for you.