22 Booklist October 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
venge thriller and part horror, while at heart it’s
about masculinity and fatherhood. An enjoyably blood-curdling and unrelenting read with
an even bleaker depiction of humanity’s worst
impulses than its predecessor, this is not for the
faint of heart. —Alexander Moran
Tale of a Boon’s Wife.
By Fartumo Kusow.
Oct. 2017. 376p. Second Story, paper, $19.95
Somalia-born Canadian Kusow’s fully im-mersive second novel cracks open the life of
a privileged young Somali girl as she realizes,
with growing disbelief, that her life is not one
of free choice but one restrained by tribe, class,
gender, violence, and scandal. Idil is 13 when
her father returns from a three-year military
training program in the Soviet Union. All at
once, her formerly idyllic life as a member of
an upper class nuclear family is shattered first
by her father’s adultery and the ensuing move
from the city where she grew up to a small,
tribal town. There she meets Sidow, a bright
and beautiful boy who is a member of the Boon
tribe and therefore strictly forbidden to her, a
member of the Bliss tribe. As the years pass,
Idil and Sidow’s love grows, and their continued relationship has a deeply shattering effect
on their future. Set against the backdrop of a
looming civil war, Idil’s story implores readers
to question what matters most in this short life:
love, security, acceptance, equality, and peace.
YA: Mature readers will be absorbed by
the story of Idil’s forbidden love and the
violence she experiences. AS.
Tarry This Night.
By Kristyn Dunnion.
Nov. 2017. 250p. Arsenal Pulp, paper, $16.95
This dark and painfully possible novel follows
Ruth, a young woman who is coming of age in
a post-climate-disaster, underground cult. The
collective, led by the disturbingly delusional Father Ernst, bears all the trimmings of a racist/
misogynist/wife-sharing nightmare. Ernst holds
many wives and breeds many children, none of
whom belong to any one mother. When Ruth
is slated to become the latest Mrs. Father Ernst,
she must decide not only whether she is willing to rebel and become a radical outlaw but
also whether she has the strength to abandon
the faith that has been restored in her ever since
the cult “rescued” her from the violence of the
above-ground streets many years ago. The book
is a modern take on the Lilith story, the Jewish
folktale made famous for its themes of female
demonology and the rejection of male subservience. Immediate and terrifying, Dunnion’s
fresh new narrative adds to the growing conversation about misogyny and freedom. A surefire
hit for fans of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s
Tale. —Courtney Eathorne
YA: With its young protagonist and
ripped-from-the-headlines themes, this
will have surefire appeal for teens drawn
to cult stories. CE.
This Book Is Not for You.
By Daniel A. Hoyt.
Nov. 2017. 288p. Dzanc, $26.95 (9781945814341).
This Kansas-set debut follows a jaded young
anarchist named Neptune. When a group of
Neptune’s acquaintances plans to bomb a local university building, Neptune risks his own
safety and steals the acquired arsenal of dynamite. While on the run from his furious former
friends, Neptune is haunted by the ghosts of
his parents, who committed suicide two days
after his birth, and the ghost of his recently
murdered mentor. Even though this particular
brand of anarchists seeks justice for the mar-ginalized (through endeavors such as physically
fighting the KKK), Neptune refuses to turn a
blind eye to their destruction. Neptune muses
like Holden Caulfield—and owns his habit
of Caulfielding—and constantly reminds his
audience that although reading can be a form
of prayer, this book might not solve anything.
Every chapter is called “Chapter One” and
varies in verbosity, fully immersing readers in
Neptune’s chaos. Hoyt has crafted a searing
meditation on violence and its subsequent
grief, told by a vicious spitfire hell-bent on rid-ding the world of hate. —Courtney Eathorne
Where the Sun Shines Out.
By Kevin Catalano.
Oct. 2017. 304p. Skyhorse, $24.99 (9781510721999).
Chittenango, New York, is a small town with
a singular distinction. It’s the birthplace of L.
Frank Baum, and each year the town stages the
Oz Fest. But at the 1991 Fest, Dean Fleming,
10, and his younger brother Jason, 8, are abducted. Jason is murdered, but Dean escapes
by swimming across a lake, towing Jason’s
body. Catalano’s first novel takes on an ambitious challenge: exploring the effect of the
tragedy on Dean, his family, and the entire
town, employing numerous characters, and
scuffling along over two-plus decades. Foremost is Dean, who knew, as he dragged Jason’s
body across the lake, that he should have been
the victim. Nine years later, Dean is a local
“menace,” repeating the twelfth grade before
moving on to Oxy, speed, and heroin. Post
tragedy, Chittenango’s decline is largely a Rust
Belt story of job loss and opioid addiction. But
the mayor’s efforts to resurrect the Oz Fest, featuring the last surviving “Munchkin,” is both
cringe-worthy and funny. The story is largely
a bleak one, but there are flashes of Richard
Russo in Catalano’s feeling for the rough edges
of upstate New York. —Thomas Gaughan
The Years, Months, Days.
By Yan Lianke. Tr. by Carlos Rojas.
Dec. 2017. 208p. Black Cat, paper, $16 (9780802126658).
This volume contains two highly acclaimed
novellas from Lianke, winner of the prestigious
Franz Kafka Prize, three-time nominee for the
Man Booker International Prize, and author
of 14 novels and more than 40 short stories.
“The Years, Months, Days,” winner of the Lu
Xun Literary Prize, is the magnificent story of
an elderly man’s decision to remain in his vil-
lage during a terrible drought to raise a single
corn seed. Together, the Elder and his only
companion, a blind dog, fight to survive as
food becomes scarce and nature itself threatens
to overcome them. In “Marrow,” a widowed
woman seeks a cure for her
four mentally disabled chil-
dren. After her husband
commits suicide, she is left
to raise them and take care
of her crops by any means
possible. However, when
she discovers that the bones
of a close relative can cure
her children’s mental illness, she takes extreme
measures to provide enough bones for them all.
Lianke paints vivid scenes of desolate circumstances with an incredible mastery of words
and control of his imagery. His masterpieces
are sure to engage readers. —Emily Park
By Steven F. Havill.
Nov. 2017. 250p. Poisoned Pen, $26.95
(9781464209222); paper, $15.95 (9781464209246);
e-book, $6.99 (9781464209253).
It’s 1986, and Robert Torrez, fresh out of
the police academy, is at the scene of a single-car crash that leaves an SUV in pieces, with
three teens dead, two of them Torrez’s younger
siblings. The next morning Torrez and Undersheriff Bill Gastner check out
a report that a water tank has
been shot to pieces and find
the body of a girl who was
supposed to have been in the
SUV. Are the crash and the
girl’s death connected? Why
was she left behind? Why
was the SUV going so fast?
Were the kids going to get help for the girl? The
twenty-second entry in Havill’s Posadas County, New Mexico, series is a prequel. In the recent
installments, Gastner is mostly retired, and Torrez is the sheriff. Fans of the long-running series
will be drawn to the backstory here, which fills
in gaps in the stories of both Torrez and Gastner. They will also respond to the qualities that
have made this series so appealing over the
years: meticulous plotting, multidimensional
characters, sharp dialogue, and a vivid sense of
place. This is one of the very best entries in a
consistently excellent series. — Wes Lukowsky
The Ghost of Christmas Past.
By Rhys Bowen.
Nov. 2017. 272p. Minotaur, $24.99 (9781250125729);
Depressed after experiencing the 1906 San
Francisco earthquake, the devastating fires
that followed, and her own miscarriage, Molly
Murphy Sullivan is glad to be home to celebrate Christmas with her family and friends.
But when her mother-in-law’s old friend
invites Molly and her family to spend the
holidays with them, Molly reluctantly agrees,
mainly to please her policeman husband Dan-