The Long and Faraway Gone (Lou Berney, 2015) – Haunted by their past, two survivors of unresolved cases continue their search for closure twenty five years on.
Death is harder on the ones left behind. Two decades could not erase their pain, as two survivors continue their search for elusive answers, unknowingly falling back into the past at the great cost of the present.
A powerfully written novel, The Long and Faraway Gone is about guilt and grief in the aftermath of unexpected tragedies. Author Lou Berney puts us in the ragged souls of the ones left behind, such that we long for the answers as much as they do.
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The Magicians (Lev Grossman, 2009) – Quentin Coldwater learns that magic, along with the land of his childhood novels, is real.
Magic for young adults has never been more angsty and tedious.
Part Harry Potter and part The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magicians is an amalgamation of fantasy clichés. Young teenagers walk through the proverbial wardrobe and emerge in Brakebills, a boarding school for magic, where they finally find their sense of belonging.
Well, sort of. Magic in Lev Grossman’s world is not that easy to love. It is low on the sense of wonder, difficult, and painfully dull. Tons involve the tedious learning of various languages, repetitive spell-casting, and constant barrages of self-doubt.
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Destroy All Monsters: The Last Rock Novel (Jeff Jackson, 2018) – A murder epidemic spreads across Arcadia, where musicians are the victims.
Music has the power to connect, as it does to destroy. It is in our nature to do the same, and Destroy All Monsters puts it all on display.
Arcadia is suffering an inexplicable wave of murders at concerts, and the epidemic has strangely little to do with the politics of gun violence. The horror is however real. Jeff Jackson’s prescient terror tale sees the sanctity of music getting tainted for reasons unknown.
Suddenly, rock n’ roll loses all of its meaning – joy, liberation, pure adrenaline – as it becomes nothing more than a harrowing death trap. At the centre of it are young musicians Xenie, Shaun, and Florian, whose sanctuary no longer feels safe. What else then do they have to hold onto?
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The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (Hannah Tinti, 2017) – After years spent on the run, Hawley moves into his late wife’s hometown with his daughter Loo, who has begun to question the cause of her mother’s passing.
On love and loss, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is rich with poignancy, evoked by perfect cadence and thoroughly beautiful prose.
Every scar tells a story. The twelve on Sam Hawley’s body reveal his dark past, where his reckless crimes have left him trapped in a cycle of endless retribution. What is his to bear, afflicts his family just the same. A constant shadow looms over his indisputable yet tainted love for his child Loo.
In unravelling the reasons for Sam’s broken self, author Hannah Tinti adeptly weaves the complicated lives of father and daughter in The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. Tinti captivates with her beautiful prose, making astute observations of selfless familial love that is not always visible.
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Sandman Slim (Richard Kadrey, 2009) – After eleven years in Hell, James Stark plans his return to Earth for revenge and absolution.
Ever wish Hellblazer‘s run went on a little longer? You may want to add Sandman Slim to your reading list.
Beware the monster who kills monsters, be wary of Sandman Slim. After eleven years of torture in Hell, James Stark has hardened his heart for vengeance. Now, the magician is reborn out of hell fire, almost bullet-proof with a knack for snarky comebacks.
Imagine John Constantine and his flair for the dark arts. Leave his usual British quips aside, and thrown in some American colloquialisms. Make sure his cigarettes, black humour, and massive ego stay intact. There, you have yourself a picture of Stark, a familiar but worthy anti-hero ready to unleash his rage back on Earth.
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Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel, 2014) – Intertwining fates are uncovered as The Travelling Symphony roams Earth after a devastating epidemic.
Station Eleven sifts through forgotten memories, examining what it means to be human.
Of intertwining fates and post-apocalyptic longings, Station Eleven shares the elegance of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and emotional complexity of Stephen King’s The Stand. These similarities do not draw away from its brilliant originality. An elegiac storyteller, Emily St. John Mandel has painted a beautiful picture of the world as we know it, and a hopeful vision of the future.
Her large band of characters begins their journeys at different points. But they are united in that common struggle to find purpose in life that we all seek. Take Arthur Leander, who has committed his whole life to showbiz, only to find that success in fame is not the answer.
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