The Night Burns Bright

Ross Barkan. Lake Union, $14.95 trade paper (374p) ISBN 978-1-5420-3715-0
When Lucien, the protagonist of this unconvincing, slow-moving thriller from Barkan (Demolition Night), is six, his mother enrolls him in an eco-friendly upstate New York private school, House of Earth, where she works in recordkeeping. House of Earth was created by O.C. Leroux to foster living lives “free of negativity,” in harmony with nature. That mission comes with restrictions on reading material, technology, and even the colors that can be used, as Lucien learns when he paints a birdhouse black. Inevitably, Lucien is tempted by the world beyond his restrictive school, and at the public library he becomes engrossed in Bernard Malamud’s The Natural. When a student at another school checks the book out for him, they become friends, and Lucien gets even more exposure to forbidden material. Eventually, Leroux’s real, and unsurprisingly sinister, master plan for limiting human damage to Earth is revealed, placing Lucien in peril. Barkan, however, fails to make the characters multidimensional or emotionally plausible. Readers interested in a similar plot will be better served by Rio Youers’s Halcyon. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/24/2021
Release date: 02/01/2022
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
MP3 CD - 978-1-7136-4990-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-7136-4989-2
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