Entries by Mary Maddox

Dragonfish – mystery without solution

Vu Tran’s novel Dragonfish combines a noir mystery with a family saga and adds a dash of ambiguity of the kind usually associated with literary fiction. Written in elegant prose, it begins as a familiar kind of detective story, the search for a missing person, but Tran seems more concerned with the mystery than its […]

Total eclipse of the sun

Like millions of other Americans, my husband and I made a pilgrimage into the path of totality on August 21, day of the Great American Eclipse. Or rather, I made a pilgrimage. Joe came along to keep me out of trouble. We live in Charleston, Illinois, a town where the moon would obscure 95% of […]


Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology

As a child I loved myths. Magical stories that existed beyond my world and outside of time, they just were.  In my post Return to Tanglewood,, I wrote about my love for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tanglewood Tales, classical myths for children. My love for Norse mythology came a few years later and captured my imagination more […]

Can you overcome shyness?

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that character is destiny. Character—the basic attributes created by inborn temperament and early environment—determines your actions, and your actions determine the course of your life. Some people think character can’t be changed, that those attributes are too deeply ingrained. One example is shyness. Can a shy […]

Transformation in two horror stories

Two paragraphs into Joe Hill’s novel Horns, I thought the author must have been influenced by Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Both stories begin with a dramatic transformation. You may already know how Kafka’s novella opens: As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. […]

A Valentine’s Day drawing

Are you a subscriber to my newsletter? Then you’re eligible to enter this drawing for three $15 Amazon Gift Cards. If you’re a winner, I’ll contact you by Friday, February 24. Let me hear from you within 72 hours. Otherwise a new winner will be chosen.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

By the numbers? Reviews of two thrillers

Recently I read two thrillers, Robert Bailey’s The Professor and Michael Connelly’s The Wrong Side of Goodbye. When I related the plot of Connelly’s latest to my husband, he remarked, “Seems like it’s pretty much by the numbers.” “By the numbers” alludes to the old-time hobby kits in which a painting—usually a famous one—is reduced […]


When a comma matters

Grammar Nazi deplores sloppy punctuation. My own attitude is more ambiguous since I think communication matters more than correctness and nobody is perfect—least of all me. But sometimes punctuation matters. While reading Justin Cronin’s The Passage, I came across an example of how much a missing comma can change the meaning of a sentence. In […]

Winter Wonderland Contest

Night Owl Reviews is hosting the Book Lovers Winter Wonderland Contest from November 23 until December 15. Dozens of authors, including me, are coming together to sponsor this exciting event. The timing is perfect for Darkroom, since Kelly’s search for her friend Day takes place during the same time span in November and December. The […]