December 1, 2016 Booklist 35 www.booklistonline.com
Teagan and Nora were sent to the convent
to work in the Magdalen laundry, an institution run by the sisters to rehabilitate
“fallen” women. Teagan’s only crime was
speaking to a young priest, but the rumors
swirled in her small town and her parents
saw the Magdalen laundry as her only option. While Teagan, Nora, and the other girls
learned how to survive in their cruel new
environment, they never stopped dreaming
of the lives they could have led. Showcasing
hard-won victories and a terrible tragedy,
this novel shines a light on a dark period in
twentieth-century Ireland. Alexander has
done his homework, peppering his novel
with details of the convent lifestyle and the
shameful treatment of the Magdalen laundry
girls. Fans of Barbara Davis and Ashley Hay
will enjoy this tenderhearted story of sinners,
saints, and redemption. —Stephanie Turza
YA: Teenage fans of historical fiction
will likely be drawn in by Alexander’s
teen characters and his account of the
mistreatment they endured. SH.
The Mark of the King.
By Jocelyn Green.
Jan. 2017. 416p. Bethany, paper, $14.99
(9780764219061); e-book (9781441231079).
Branded and imprisoned for a crime she did
not commit, French midwife Julianne Chevalier is exiled to America with other prisoners
in 1719. Even in the harsh new world, the
seared mark on her skin brings judgment and
complicates her new life, including the search
for her long-lost brother. Captain Marc-Paul
Girard recognizes Julianne but keeps his
connection to her secret until tragedy forces out the truth. When the opportunity for
vengeance arises, it is the ultimate test. Will
Julianne and Marc-Paul break the cycle of
tyranny and live lives marked by grace? From
the pungent streets and prison cells of Paris
to the rugged shacks and struggle for survival
in New Orleans amidst warring native nations, Green focuses on experiential details,
many of which may disturb some readers.
This inspirational historical novel is a heavy
read with intensely graphic scenes of birth,
miscarriage, whipping, and scalping. Fans
of Suzanne Woods Fisher (Anna’s Crossing,
2015) will appreciate the historical realism
and the theme of resilience amidst unthinkable adversity. —Kate Campos
Minds of Winter.
By Ed O’Loughlin.
Mar. 2017. 500p. Quercus, $26.99 (9781681442457).
What drives explorers? Why do they
risk reputation, relationships, and lives?
O’Loughlin traces the history of exploration, and the personalities of the men who
were swallowed by the Arctic and never returned, beginning with Sir John Franklin’s
1845 search for the Northwest Passage and
ending with Roald Amundsen’s fateful flight
to find Airship Italia in 1928. In a parallel
story set in the present, a young drifter and a
woman who is officially dead pursue missing
relatives, while a chronometer—supposedly
aboard Franklin’s ship—continues to mystify
all who discover its reappearance. In addition,
the story encompasses Inuit tradition and
myth; misanthropes, and others slowly going
crazy in close northern quarters; abandoned
ships forever icebound or
sunken; and the implacable
leaders who found fame,
but not what they sought,
before vanishing into the
unknown. Altogether, the
novel is a tapestry of time
and place, a study of human
nature, and a celebration of
exploration and adventure. It’s a sure bet for
readers who devoured Alfred Lansing’s En-
durance (1994) and for those who will never
forget Andrea Barrett’s Voyage of the Narwhal
(1998). The atmosphere of frozen horror is
reminiscent of Dan Simmons’ The Terror
(2007), and, of course, Robert Service’s poet-
ry naturally comes to mind (“The Cremation
of Sam McGee”). —Jen Baker
Shoes for Anthony.
By Emma Kennedy.
Jan. 2017. 400p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $25.99
In the small Welsh village of Treherbert,
WWII is experienced primarily through
deprivation: rationing, poverty, sacrifice. Anthony’s father and brothers support the war
effort through digging coal, while Anthony
spends his days in boyish high jinks with his
friends. When American troops mass nearby
and a German plane crashes close to the
village, Anthony learns firsthand how dangerous war can be. This first-person WWII
family drama is told from Anthony’s perspective, and he is often extremely precocious for
a 10-year-old. The “surprise” plot twist will
not be so to most readers, and the regional
dialogue is not entirely successful. However,
Kennedy shines when focusing on the small
moments of boys’ play and everyday life. The
setting, from the pervasive coal dust to the
tatty housecoats of the Treherbert women, is
adeptly crafted, doubtless because Kennedy’s
father grew up in Treherbert; the novel is
based, in part, on him. Most affecting is the
contrast this cheerfully endured (especially
by children) but impoverished environment
provides with the modern abundance many
of us take for granted. —Bethany Latham
YA: Teens will identify with Anthony’s
coming-of-age perspective on family and
friendships during turbulent times. BL.
The Wicked City.
By Beatriz Williams.
Jan. 2017. 384p. Morrow, $26.99 (9780062405029).
After Ella catches her husband in the act,
as the saying goes, she moves to a funky
apartment building on Christopher Street
in Greenwich Village. There she spies a
bricked-up entrance to what was once an old
speakeasy, and Ella swears she can hear the
jazz combo that once entertained the flap-
pers and swells who frequented the place.
She may even hear the voices of the flappers
themselves. Does the ghost of Ginger Kelly
still haunt that spot, where she was nabbed in
a Prohibition raid? Quite possibly, for Gin-
ger was coerced into helping federal agent
Oliver Anson catch her abusive stepfather,
Duke Kelly, an Appalachian hillbilly turned
slick businessman, whose bootlegging op-
eration illegally supplied half the East Coast
with home-brewed hooch. As she returns to
the setting of A Certain Age (2016), Williams
deftly weaves together Ginger’s Jazz Age woes
with Ella’s contemporary troubles, though
Ginger steals the show. An otherworldly
atmosphere, pulse-raising tension, and
swoonworthy romance all provide a stellar
foundation for what will become a series star-
ring the dame-with-a-heart Ginger and her
stalwart swain, Oliver Anson. —Carol Haggas
Breath of Fire.
By Amanda Bouchet.
Jan. 2017. 448p. Sourcebooks/Casablanca, paper, $7.99
As Bouchet picks up the Kingmaker Chronicles from where A Promise of Fire (2016)
ends, Cat’s worst fears are coming true. The
secrets she has worked so hard to keep are
out, and so is her true identity as second-in-line for the
Fisian throne. When Griffin,
her rock-steady lover, finds
out that she is the missing
princess, he does not handle
the truth well at all. Luckily
for Cat, he loves her despite
her family history and understands her continued reluctance to let people
get close. The high-fantasy aspects and mythology of Bouchet’s tale take center stage
for most of the book, and her world-building
reaches new heights as Griffin and Cat find
themselves in an epic battle to take over and
unite the realms with their elite Beta Team.
As pieces of Cat’s history are revealed, she
becomes more than a badass warrior; she
becomes real, that is, honest and flawed.
Though she is as snarky as ever, and Griffin remains patient and protective, together
they are sexy as hell, romantic, and adorable.
Readers familiar with the first book will get
the most out of this page-turning addition
to the series, and fans will be eager for book
three of the series. —Ilene Lefkowitz
By Beverly Jenkins.
Feb. 2017. 384p. Avon, paper, $7.99 (9780062389022).
Jenkins continues her historical Western series, begun in Forbidden (2016), about Rhine
Fontaine, the son of a slave and her master,
passing as white, and his love, Eddy Carmichael. This installment features Eddy’s niece,
27-year-old Portia. The family was forced to
leave Nevada, and they now run a hotel in