Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs; Quirk Books, 396 pages ($17.99). Ages 12 and up.
Rigg’s original 2011 novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” spent 60 straight weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and film rights were sold to Twentieth Century Fox. Now Riggs again pairs spooky vintage photographs with well-crafted, beautifully written fantasy in this enthralling sequel, with 21st century American boy Jacob and other peculiars, or children with special powers, on the run from terrifying wights, posing as soldiers, in 1940 England. The eerie photos (a girl with daylight shining through a perfectly cylindrical hole in her stomach, a dog wearing goggles and smoking a pipe, a stone man submerged in a lake) collected from sundry sources mesh perfectly with the odd twists and turns of Riggs’ suspenseful tale with its time loops and terrifying “hollowgast” monsters and the vivid setting of war-torn Britain, as Jacob and Emma lead the other peculiars on a dangerous odyssey to London in hopes of returning their mentor, Miss Peregrine, from bird to human form. A shocking plot twist and the cliffhanger ending will leave readers hungry for the next installment. Hopefully, they won’t have to wait three years to get it.
– Jean Westmoore
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd; Penguin (359 pages, $28)
From the opening words that place 10-year-old Hetty, a slave girl whose mama calls her Handful, in the courtyard of a Charleston plantation, “The Invention of Wings” tells a story of strength, sorrow and shame.
For Handful is presented as a birthday gift to one of the many children of the South Carolina estate, Sarah Grimké, to mark her 11th birthday. One child being given another – shameful.
But Sue Monk Kidd’s deft writing takes us into the hearts and minds of both of these girls immediately, as Sarah tells her mother she has no need to own a slave.
Kidd weaves a fascinating story, for Sarah Grimké and her sister, Nina, were real women of the early 1800s who became the first female abolition agents. And Handful also existed – a young slave named Hetty given to Sarah.
But the rich and complex relationship between Sarah and Handful is the author’s creation, and a masterful one. They become friends, of sorts, but Handful resents her position and Sarah – despite her pure intentions – was reared with a sense of entitlement and wealth that are hard to shake.
Most of this book is about Sarah, Nina and Handful. A few men play important but small roles. But this beautiful and ultimately uplifting book is about women and their fight to be heard.
— Amanda St. Amand, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Tiger Shrimp Tango” by Tim Dorsey; Morrow ($25.99)
At the beginning of Tim Dorsey’s 17th outing with Florida madman Serge A. Storms, there’s a hint, just a soupcon, that the Tampa author may be veering a bit more into sophisticated humor. Maybe, just maybe, his pie-in-your-face sense of humor might be sharpening a bit to the more acerbic brand of wit.
The moment comes when former cop turned private eye Mahoney (just Mahoney, taking up with Serge tends to make one lose a first name) is using the most cliched and funny similes to describe his work. These are, of course, rifts on those phrases used by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler back in the day. But Mahoney’s tone is more playful, such as “air coming through my window was heavy with heat, humidity and double crosses” or a client who “knocked on my door like knuckles hitting wood.”
But Dorsey quickly changes gear in “Tiger Shrimp Tango,” delivering the kind of out-of-control approach we expect – and truth be told – want from him. Dorsey’s banana-peel-on-the-floor brand of humor works for him, much better than a well-turned phrase. Leave the rapier wit to Carl Hiaasen, with whom Dorsey will never be confused.
In “Tiger Shrimp Tango,” Dorsey actually has a plot, one that goes off on tangents, that occasionally gets confusing, but a plot, nonetheless. This time Serge, the serial killer who wreaks havoc on those who don’t respect Florida or its history, takes after the myriad scams that plague the Sunshine State. Serge is tired of seeing innocent people fleeced out of their money, their self-respect or their faith in others. He’s especially upset when some of those scams turn fatal for the innocent victims. Besides, these scam artists reinforce Florida’s already wacky reputation and that is something that Serge will not tolerate. Scams that involve dating, tax returns, mortgages, obituaries, fraudulent FBI agents, the homeless, cancer survivors and disasters are just a few that Serge wants to wipe out.
Politics, perhaps the biggest scam of all, government conspiracies and just plain old rudeness also are in Serge’s crosshairs.
Each of Dorsey’s novels are a valentine to Florida as Serge soaks up every corner of the state.
– Oline H. Cogdill, Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel