Author Archives: Tony

The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson, founding member of the Affrilachian Poets and Kentucky’s current Poet Laureate, is an outstanding author even among our state’s especially rich history of lyrical storytellers. Set in the fictional rural, black township of Opulence, Kentucky, this 2016 novel gives voice to the lives of generations of women of the Goode and Brown families in the twentieth century. The reader floats through the hidden lives of these characters, suffering along with them the abuses and losses they experience and the pressure of living up to community moral expectations (or at least avoiding becoming the subject of local gossip and scorn). But there are also the joyful experiences – the public celebrations, family reunions. And above all there is love: the intensity of the romantic loves and the complexity of the love that binds the families.

Wilkinson brings to life for us a much different time when magic was much more real and connections to the land, to family, and to the community were uninterrupted by our current pace of life, industrialization, digitalization, and urbanization.

– Review by Scott, Main Library

Seed by Ania Ahlborn

As we approach “spooky season” I start to crave a good horror novel…one that I can read on the couch in the middle of the day with all the windows wide open and the sun shining, of course. It’s not my usual fare but a coworker recommended Seed to me, Anita Ahlborn’s debut novel set in rural Louisiana, and I was intrigued and in the mood for something supernatural and sinister. I got exactly what I wished for.

Jack Winters has been carrying the burden of something evil and hungry all his life – he’s even gotten the snarling grin that chases him tattooed onto his back – but despite years of silence and his attempts to build a life with his wife Aimee and their two daughters, despite rebuilding his terrified psyche from what he saw as a child and struggling financially in the present to make ends meet for his small family, he’s about to learn he hasn’t outrun anything. On a dark highway traveling home the Winters family experiences a freak accident that brings Jack face to face with his monster…and this time his youngest daughter, Charlie, sees it too. And Charlie begins to change almost immediately, following the Young Child in a Horror Story playbook: her health suffers, she starts acting out, she suddenly knows things she shouldn’t and starts sowing discord, and then violence. Aimee knows something is wrong, but not to what extent, as her youngest starts to stalk the household. And Jack is torn between finally telling Aimee everything about his past and losing her and the girls forever, and realizing that by the time it becomes vital, it’s too late…that it was always too late. Because while Jack remembers the demon that haunts him there’s a lot of details about his flight from his own childhood home that he doesn’t remember, and he is forced to start searching for the truth about his family, his parents and a single, similar escalation of terror they all experienced before in order to have a chance at saving Charlie in the present.

I really liked the Winters family and felt terribly for them, even if you logically know that it’s not always wise to get attached to the characters in horror stories.* Jack worked a tough, physical job for the family he adored and played in a band with his buddies on the side, and he genuinely reminded me of some of the boys that lived in my grandparents’ holler growing up, a little wild and extremely into metal bands and WWE but you knew they were good-hearted. I don’t see a lot of people like that reflected in literature, and I loved it, even if in this case they were being seriously terrorized. We experience some of the more terrifying scenes from Aimee’s perspective while alone with the kids, and I really felt for her as well: in addition to being terrified for/terrorized by her own daughters, we the readers know Jack had been trying hard to conceal his past from her, and so it was obvious to us that she was in no way equipped to deal with Charlie’s sudden, dramatic possession. Ahlborn peppers the book with creepiness, sliding brief scenes and horrifying lines from Charlie into the constant narrative of Jack’s mounting dread, and they’re effective. Her progression from normal little girl to a vessel for unspeakable evil is gradual, until the plot crashes into us – and the Winters family – and you realize along with all of them that there will be no return to innocence.

I’ve read reviews of this book after the fact where readers have surmised that it contains a major theme of how family violence gets passed down in families for one generation after another. As far as I can tell the events of the story happen over the course of a couple of weeks – I found myself assuming Jack had so much more time to figure out how to save his family, right up until the climax of the novel suddenly crashed down on him and us. Additionally, one of the factors that makes the possession and sundering of this family so painful to read is because Jack clearly loved his children, and treated them well, and he and Aimee loved each other and were fighting desperately to hold their family together. There wasn’t a history of violence in Jack’s family as far as we can see and even if there had been, experiencing familial abuse as a child isn’t a guarantee that a person will grow up to be abusive.

So in my opinion, this isn’t a story about the enduring nature of family violence. It’s simply a story about the Devil playing a game wherein he wagers that a parent will murder their possessed child to protect themselves, because even when he loses he wins, and he’s been winning like that for a very long time. And now it’s Jack’s turn to play.

I’d recommend this book to horror fans who appreciate a Southern Gothic set dressing, creepy kids and the slow reveal of a thriller, with a moderate amount of gore and a side of existential dread. As it turns out however, Ania Ahlborn is one of the more prolific horror authors in recent history, and the plots of her books run the gamut of horror tropes from cannibalistic hillbillies to haunted houses to unseen monsters lurking in the woods, so if you’re a horror fan who hasn’t yet heard of Ahlborn, it looks like she writes a little something for everybody…as it were.

*As a side note, I try to flag reviews of books I read where animals experience violence, because that can be a major trigger for a lot of folks. It feels silly in a book where so much haunting and harm comes to humans, including kids, which would theoretically take precedence over animals in a lot of our sympathies, but just in case I’ll put it here anyway: be aware, a dog is hurt during the course of this story.

– Review by SarahMain Library

Ten Graphics You Should Check Out

Real quick…there are tons of great comics out there and your library has quite a selection. We’ve got something for every age, rage, or cage, baby…believe that.

I’m not here to sell you anything, just sharing. Here are some works that I have enjoyed since the beginning of the year. Click on the links below and check the bibliography for more details (including a description of and – sometimes – reviews of the work).

Imagine if the Mothership Connection met Firefly…but funkier

Jonathan Hickman jump-starts the whole X-Men side of the Marvel Universe…which is X-cellent if you’ve never read them before and need a convenient place to dive in

Indigenous (?) rebellion against an American Empire gone amuck

Some of the most embarrassing autobiographical stories about the comic biz collected in one place

’70’s-into-’80’s sci-fi, sure, but it also is one of the early works that showed what a new wave of British artists were about to do to the comics industry…completely change it for the better

  • Ms. Tree by Max Allan Collins & Terry Beatty
Currently, the longest running continuous pulp-detective series in comics form (outside of comics strips)

  • Satania – Fabien Vehlmann, Marie Pommepuy, & Sébastien Cosset
From the same creative team that brought you Beautiful Darkness, a phantasmagorical tale about adventurers discovering what really lies deep below the Earth’s surface

Amazing art, fantastic story. You have got to read this one just for the beauty of it


Another great edition to DC’s Graphic Novels for Young Adults series. This time, it’s a coming of age tale of a daughter who feels she has had to live in her mother’s shadow for all these years, only to find her own path
Just gorgeous. Toppi is an amazing artist and an inspiration for many who’ve come since. Sci-fi, fantasy, you name it, he can do it all

All of these works can be checked out from LFPL. Each title has a “Check Our Catalog” link that will take you to where you can view the location and status of the specific item in our system. You may have the item shipped to the library of your choice by placing a hold request (using the “Place Request” button on the right-hand side of the item’s catalog entry).


If you are interested in discussing these titles or other works of sequential art, please join LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group. Our next meeting is this Saturday, September 11, 2021. We will be taking a look at The Great Darkness Saga by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen.

– Review by Tony, Main Library

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Tor Books (2020)

176 pages // 3 hours & 46 minutes on Audio

Link to the book in LFPL’s catalog

Riot Baby came out in January 2020 to much acclaim and nominations to many of the most respected science fiction awards (Nebula Award Nominee 2020, Goodreads Science Fiction Choice Award Nominee 2020, Hugo Award Nominee 2021, Locus Award Nominee 2021). But this book is so timely I had to triple check its release date as I was listening to the audiobook–its prescience for the summer of 2020 is as apt as the future sight of the protagonist, Ella.

Ella is only about 5 when her brother Kev is born during the Rodney King riots in 1992 Los Angeles, but she can already see flashes of the future. Ella and Kev grow up protecting each other, developing their skills, and trying to escape the effects of racism, but by adulthood Kev is incarcerated and Ella has to leave to find her full power. But how will she handle having that much power in the face of a system that’s hurting her brother and their community so much? At once hopeful and devastating, Riot Baby is strongly recommended, especially the wonderfully done audiobook version narrated by the author himself. This book is for readers who want to further explore the effect racism and the prison industrial complex has on families and individuals, including one who happens to have superpowers.

– Review by Valerie, Newburg Branch

In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2017
Locus 
2017 Recommended Reading List

Claudio Bianchi sees a unicorn on his farm.  He can’t keep it a secret for very long.  Then there are two of them.  Then comes trouble.  This is basically a story about a middle-aged man who meets a much younger woman, which is a typical plot. However, this story is far from the average romance.

Claudio lives on a small hillside farm in Southern Italy.  His companions include cows, pigs, a goat, and three cats.  Later, Giovanna shows up while delivering the mail.  She sees the unicorn and everything in Claudio’s solitary life begins to change.  Claudio is also a very amateur but quite dedicated poet.  His writing, like every other aspect of his life, takes on new meaning.  Is it the unicorn or is it Giovanna?  Maybe it is both of them that change him.  This story shows that it may take a few miracles, but good can prevail.

The one thing I don’t like about this book is that the author writes in gruesome detail about the murder of one of Claudio’s cats.  Otherwise, this is a nice, sweet, quaint romantic story about a poor, Italian farmer and the sister of the village postal carrier.  A romance, that is, which is interrupted by violence, monsters, gangsters, and thugs.

– Review by Elaine, Main Library

3 Dead Princes by Danbert Nobacon

The heroine of this humorous, satirical fantasy is Princess Alex, also called “Stormy” (her middle name).  She goes on an accidental and occasionally chilling adventure, fulfills a witch’s prophesy, and manages to kill off three princes. In her effort to save her homeland, Morainia, from the threatening Oosarians she becomes a legendary, almost magical, figure.

The clever, specialized vocabulary used in this story is well defined in the Glossary.  But, this was the only part of this book that I did not like.  It obviously required significant creativity and effort.  It somewhat detracts from the story and slows down reading of an otherwise fast moving and charming fantasy in which time has yet to be “invented”.    

It may seem odd that this not very anarchistic and would-be fairy-tale with a teenage heroine is found in the adult Science Fiction section of the library.  The story appeals to both age groups but it might be more popular as a Teen book. 

– Review by Elaine, Main Library

Two Tales about Northern Ireland

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and fiction shines a light on real events so well it seems true. That’s the case with Northern Spy by Flynn Berry a mystery/thriller set in Northern Ireland in present day, and Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe the true story of a murder and mayhem in Northern Ireland during the height of The Troubles.

In Northern Spy, Tessa – a producer for the BBC – claims to be largely non-political. Like everyone living and working in Northern Ireland she is impacted by conflict between Irish republicans and British loyalists, but she herself has never been involved. Then one day she looks up to see news footage of her sister Marian pulling a ski mask over her head and participating in an armed robbery. Tessa insists her sister must have been kidnapped or coerced into participating in the heist, but eventually comes to realize the sister she thought she knew so well has been secretly working for the IRA for years. When Marian tells her she may have a path for peace Tessa has to decide where her loyalties lie and how far she will go protect everything that is dear to her. This book is a fast read. The chapters are short and the plot moves quickly. This is a great read for anyone who likes mysteries and political thrillers.

Say Nothing is also about two sisters, Dolours and Marian Price. While the fictional Tessa and Marian in Berry’s book were not raised to be political, the real Price sisters were raised in a well-known republican family. Marian and Dolours were participants in several high profile bombings in the UK in the 1970’s. Both sisters spent time in jail, both were subjected to force feedings when they tried to go on hunger strikes, and both received widespread press coverage. Keefe’s investigation also turned up audio recordings, interviews Dolours Price gave to oral historians at Boston College that seem to implicate one or both sisters in the murder of Jean McConville, a single mother of ten children in 1974. Keefe’s book is wonderful at examining 400 years of conflict through the lens of a handful of IRA members and one murder. There’s a surprise twist at the end that is guaranteed to leave you with goosebumps. Say Nothing is perfect for fans of Erik Larson who want a fast-paced, well researched look at the ongoing struggle in Northern Ireland.

– Review by Jenny, Middletown Branch

Now the only thing overdue at the Library is you!

Your Louisville Free Public Library has gone fine free!

LFPL no longer charges fines for overdue items. With this change, LFPL officially joins library systems across the country who recognize that fines statistically do not ensure the return of borrowed materials. They merely create a barrier to library services that disproportionately affects the people who need access the most.

While this proposal eliminates overdue fines, library items not returned will still result in a patron being billed for the replacement cost and blocked from additional checkouts until the items are returned or paid for.

Why is LFPL going fine free?

  • To provide more equitable access to the library’s materials and resources.
  • To encourage previous patrons to come back to the library and attract new users.
  • To improve customer service and the patron’s overall library experience.

What this means for you:

  • You will no longer accrue a daily late fee on overdue materials.
  • If you have overdue fines (not replacement costs) accrued before we were fine free, you are no longer required to pay those fines.
  • You are still responsible for your items. We encourage you to return all items in a timely manner.
  • The library will continue to send you courtesy reminders to return your items.
  • Past replacement fees for lost or damaged items still apply.

2021 Eisner Awards Nominations

These are often called the comic book world’s version of the Oscars

Comic-Con has announced nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2021. The nominees are for works published between January 1 and December 31, 2020 and were chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges.

All professionals in the comic book industry are eligible to vote.

The deadline for voting is June 30, 2021. The results of the voting will be announced in July in a virtual ceremony as part of Comic-Con@Home.

For a list of items in the library that are Eisner Award-winning works, click here.


Hey, if you are interested in discussing comics, manga, or comics-related media, please join LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group.

Upcoming meetings will take place on the following dates:

  • Patriotism & Superheroes – Saturday, July 03, 2021 – 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Free Comic Book Day – Saturday, August 14, 2021 – 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM (yes, there will be free comics for attendees!)

 Article by Tony, Main Library