Blade Between
by Miller, Sam J.

Reluctantly visiting his upstate New York hometown when his father falls ill, a restless gay photographer reconnects with two high-school friends who become his allies in a plan to expose the corrupt motives of invasive corporate gentrifiers. 50,000 first printing.

*Starred Review* The latest from Miller (Destroy All Monsters, 2019) focuses on the rapidly gentrifying former whaling town of Hudson, New York. Amid a wide array of characters, a central trio emerges: Ronan, an aging gay photographer struggling with meth addiction who finds himself on a train back to his childhood home; Dom, a Black cop who was Ronan's secret boyfriend throughout their adolescence; and Attalah, Dom's wife and the leader of the uphill battles against Hudson's gentrification. When Ronan and Attalah work together on a more radical, less legal campaign to fight the transformation of the city, it quickly spins out of their control, seemingly fueled by mysterious supernatural forces responsible for events like people drowning in their own homes or Ronan meeting a young trans gay man, Katch, months after Katch's suicide. Hudson-born Miller's sprawling novel encapsulates the complex web of feelings brought on by witnessing the destruction of a town that made adolescence hell for a gay or trans teen. While some of the supernatural threads of the story are resolved abruptly, the raw and volatile energy of the novel more than makes up for it. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a queer-themed, sea salt-laced dark fantasy. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Supernatural and uncomfortably human forces threaten to rip a failing town apart. In the 19th century, Hudson, New York, was a bustling port and whaling town. The blood of the slaughtered whales soaked into the earth, and their powerful spiritual presence permeated the area. Twenty-first century Hudson is poised between decay and a gentrified rebirth thanks to newly arrived billionaire Jark Trowse and a coterie of investors turning local mom-and-pop shops and familiar but dingy diners into upscale antique stores and boutique eateries. The town is divided between those who welcome the new people and their money and those who are losing everything they love to the invasion. As Jark embarks on what will likely be a victorious mayoral campaign, whale and human ghosts lure Ronan Szepessy, a successful New York City photographer and recovering drug addict, back to the hometown that brutally rejected him for being gay and showed little sympathy when his mother committed suicide. Ronan is disgusted by the changes he sees in Hudson and despairs at the state of his father, a butcher whose shop failed and who is now declining into dementia. He embarks on a volatile plan with Attalah, a high school friend, to confound the gentrifiers even while he carries on a secret affair with her husband, Dom, a cop who is never quite accepted by the rest of the force because he's Black. The town ghosts have granted Ronan powers that lend his efforts a supernatural heft, but Ronan's complex feelings about his past and the people of Hudson also rouse darker forces that tip the town toward violence and chaos. It's amazing how several of the same motifs that appeared in Miller's cli-fi novel Blackfish City (2018)‚?"whales, the abyss between the rich and poor, the struggle for housing, and a mysterious broadcast which brings hope‚?"appear in this novel but in entirely fresh and equally effective shapes. The story is also strongly informed by Miller's own history as a gay man brought up in Hudson, the son of a butcher who lost his shop to a big-box store. An unsettling and visceral journey: powerful, twisted, and grim but ultimately uplifting. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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