Catching up with some short reviews today, all in my current summer favorites of fantasy and thriller.
Parents, Watch Your Children
- What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan: I'm not sure why I held off on reading this much-buzzed book. It is a very well done thriller about a young boy who goes missing after getting permission from his mom to run ahead to a playground. The story is told from multiple viewpoints and different times. Macmillan did a good job with how both traditional media and social media can quickly move from sympathetic to vicious. I was particularly drawn to the male detective and how the case affected him. The audiobook was read by Penelope Rawlins and Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, who kept my attention throughout; I had a hard time turning off the book! (Harper Audio; 12 h, 2 min; print: William Morrow, December 2015)
- The Couple Next Door by Shari Lepena: I didn't realize when I started this audiobook that it was going to be another missing child story, although the circumstances here are different. When Anne and Marco's baby-sitter cancels last minute, the couple decides to have dinner with the neighbors anyway. They set up the baby monitor and take turns checking on the baby every half hour, but when they get home at 1:00 a.m., their daughter's crib is empty. This is a good twisty thriller with a small cast. I was completely caught up in working out exactly who did what and why. I didn't really like any of the characters (except maybe the detective), but I don't think we are meant to like them. The audiobook was read by Kirsten Potter, who set the mood and picked up on the characters' personalities. (Penguin Audio, 8 hr, 40 min; Pamela Dorman, August 23, 2016)
Visit a Fantasy World
- Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson: I loved Pearson's Jenna Fox dystopian books, so decided it was a safe bet to try her fantasy series (the third installment is out this fall). The story features Lia, a princess who doesn't want either the position or the arranged marriage that goes with it. She runs away to start a new life as a peasant girl, but two boys are tracking her. One an assassin and the other her intended husband. For the first two-thirds of the book, neither Lia nor we know which boy is which--very clever. I give the book 4 stars for characters and world building, but the audiobook, read by Emily Rankin, was only so-so. I have no real complaints, I just wasn't wowed. (Listening Library, 13 hr, 31 min; Henry Holt, July 2014)
- Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan: Why oh why haven't I read Sullivan before? I loved, loved, loved this book and its creatures, people, and politics. The story has many familiar epic fantasy elements, but there are enough twists so not everything is predictable. Excellent world building and relatable, flawed characters plus a terrific mix of fantasy and reality (including war and racial tensions). I can't wait for the next book, but in the meantime I'm going to read Sullivan's other books set in the same world but in a different time period. It took me a little bit to get into Tim Gerard Reynolds's performance of the audiobook, but then it clicked, and I devoured it, enjoying his pacing and expressive narration. (Recorded Books, 16 hr, 35 min; Del Rey, June 2016)