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Picks and Pans Main: Books

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Shadow of Night

by Deborah Harkness |

REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

NOVEL

Fans of Harkness’s 2011 debut A Discovery of Witches will be delighted with Shadow of Night, the second hefty book in her All Souls Trilogy. Now newlyweds, her protagonists Diana and Matthew have time-traveled back to 1590 London, where they-and the vampires, wizards and demons on their trail-believe they’ll find the origins of the enchanted manuscript Diana uncovered in Discovery. As their search takes them from London to Prague and back again, the couple’s relationship deepens. But Diana hasn’t yet learned to control her magical powers, and Matthew’s attempts to keep her safe from witch hunts cause marital tension. (Being a 21st-century woman in a 16th-century marriage, it turns out, can be tricky.) There are a few too many story lines, too many shifting time periods and a confusing slew of new characters, including historical figures Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh. But Harkness, a history professor at the University of Southern California, delivers enough romance and excitement to keep the pages turning. Readers will devour it, chaos and all.

The World Without You

by Joshua Henkin |

REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

NOVEL

The family of Leo Frankel, a young war correspondent, has gathered in the Berkshires to mark the one-year anniversary of his death in Iraq. In this densely detailed and touching portrait, Henkin (Matrimony) shows how the loss eats away at Leo’s wife, parents and sisters, testing beliefs and loyalties they’ve taken for granted. Intense and self-questioning, none of them thinks in terms of “closure.” But you finish the book hoping these complicated, appealing people will find a way forward.

The Odyssey of KP2

by Terrie M. Williams |

REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT

NON-FICTION

Biologist Williams tells the inspiring tale of “sealebrity” KP2, an orphan monk seal brought to her Santa Cruz lab for study. Adored by locals (and viewed as a threat by fisherman), KP2 becomes a media darling. Williams’s scientific reserve melts, and she finds herself bonding with her subject, even as she passionately works to save his endangered species. Her story brings home the message that we must “respect and cherish all animals as partners on this earth.”