Sunday, November 6, 2011


Reviews from Harriet

Zone One
Colson Whitehead
Doubleday, Oct 18 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780385528078

Now known as Mark Spitz, he wanted to live in Manhattan after witnessing the lifestyle of his Uncle Lloyd vs. the boredom of his parents who proved reincarnation exists having done the numbing drill for the zillionth time. He assumed law school was the ticket to New York, New York though his grades were lacking; selling high end coffee to the rich and wannabes is not the way to swim to the gold. Instead the Last Night Plague became his avenue as he joined the clean up crew and became known as Mark Spitz of the Omega Unit.

On orders from the government VIPs in a safe opulent green zone in Buffalo, the army reclaimed Zone One, everything below Canal Street. The leaders push the American Phoenix Rising renewal highlighted by the upbeat song Stop! Can You Hear the Eagle Roar? Spitz and the other Omega Unit civilian volunteers conduct a dangerous building by building search for the infected living dead in Zone One. Three days of search and destroy has left Spitz on the brink of lunacy; that will be dubbed by the psychology department as Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder.

Using the zombie craze as a means, Colson Whitehead writes an intriguing brilliant satire that lampoons Manhattan and by default America. The story line focuses on volunteer exterminator Spitz who over three days goes from gung ho to burn out. Timely with the recent debt fiasco, assault on public workers to pay political tabs and the middle class financial depression, this terrific complicated American allegory is summed up by the protagonist’s father: “things will be even worse than they are now." Harriet Klausner

Sunrise of Avalon
Anna Elliott
Simon & Schuster, $16.00
ISBN: 9781416589914

Former High Queen Widow Isolde and her intrepid protector Trystan the mercenary are in love and marry in secret following efforts to keep his brutal sire, the Cornwall King Marche from becoming the High King of Britain (see Dark Moon of Avalon). Because of his shame of his ruthless father’s heritage and his own activities as a solder, Trystan keeps some of himself apart from his beloved. She, in turn, fails to inform her beloved that she is carrying his child.

Marche and his allies Saxon King of Kent Octa of the “Bloody Knife" and the High King Madoc begin a terror campaign to destroy the opposition. Trystan tries to serendipitously subvert their unholy alliance. Isolde pleads with Madoc to withdraw for the good of the nation, but he informs her Octa captured his son Rhun. Lord Marche recaptures Isolde and demands a second marriage of political convenience as they were briefly married last year and he is unaware she is wed to his son. She and Rhun escape leading to his sire attacking the Saxons in the Battle of Britain.

The final Trystan & Isolde Arthurian mythos (see Twilight of Avalon) is an exciting complicated (at times too convoluted) thriller as betrayal, treachery and broken alliances are the norm. Politics makes strange bedfellows with human hostage being the choice of the times. Although readers will want to smack Trystan on the head for his inability to fully accept Isolde’s love of him, fans of Anna Elliot’s saga will enjoy the outcome of Arthur’s legacy determined by “helpless” women. Harriet Klausner

Where Demons Fear to Tread
Stephanie Chong
Mira, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778312475

In West Hollywood, yoga instructor Serena St. Clair, the tyro angel, enters Devil’s Paradise nightclub. Her celestial mission to protect the soul of notorious Nick “It Boy” Ramirez starts with getting him out of the local hot spot. However, the club’s owner Julian Ascher intercepts Serena before she can retrieve her wayward celeb.

Julian is the most powerful demon in Southern California; his mission is to eradicate Nick’s soul. He bets the angelic rookie into coming with him for a week in Las Vegas with the stakes being Nick’s soul that he currently possesses. In Sin City, Serena struggles with the temptation of the enemy that would cost her soul while Julian struggles with the same enticement that would redeem his soul.

This is an entertaining romantic urban fantasy starring beloved enemies who distrust one another partly because of the taboo attraction. The story line is fast-paced but rather thin with no twists as the plot follows what the audience anticipates will occur during the initial encounter in Devil’s Paradise. Still fans will enjoy the trek Where Demons (and angels) Fear to Tread. Harriet Klausner

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