After two historical novels, Decatur author Thomas Mullen takes an extraordinary trip to the near future in a thriller called The Revisionists (Little, Brown/Mulholland Books). In Washington, D.C., after a game-changing disaster known only as the “Great Conflagration,” Agent Zed from the U.S. Department of Historical Integrity travels back in time to make sure nothing interferes with the unfolding of horrific events such as the Holocaust, the 9/11 attacks, and the mysterious conflagration. All are necessary evils, in the government’s wisdom, to bring about “the Perfect Present”—a time of no war, no poverty, and no disease. Zed and his fellow agents are pitted against time-traveling historical agitators (aka hags), who are hell-bent on stopping the big tragedies. Though this is not a historical novel, the plot concerns the nature of history itself. “There’s a saying that dates back even before this time: History is written by the winners,” Mullen writes. “But what happens when everyone has lost?” Questions of fate versus free will, utopia versus reality, and the implications of a world without obvious racial and ethnic lines add terrific human depth to the whiz-bang gadgetry of Mullen’s imagined world. Just as he played with genre elements of noir and magical realism in last year’s The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, Mullen now puts a very highbrow spin on the spy novel and science fiction.
THE CHESHIRE CHEESE CAT: A Dickens of a Tale (Peachtree Publishers)
(For ages eight to twelve) Inspired by London’s Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a sixteenth-century inn with a rich literary history, authors Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright concocted this howler of a tale about a well-educated mouse named Pip and his feline, cheese-loving ally, Skilley: “He was the best of toms. He was the worst of toms.” Adults and children alike will find something to love about this playful romp, featuring cameos by Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Queen Victoria—all beautifully illustrated by Barry Moser. Deedy, a native of Cuba who grew up in Decatur, is a national treasure and a world-class storyteller. She’ll read from her new book at Decatur’s Little Shop of Stories (littleshopofstories.com) on October 1.
DRIFTING INTO DARIEN: A Personal and Natural History of the Altamaha River (University of Georgia Press)
“Other rivers are as wide, and as dark, and as long, and as deep, and as bendy,” Janisse Ray writes. “Others are as well loved. Others are as wild. But the Altamaha is mine, its water my blood, its history my own.” The author of the critically acclaimed Ecology of a Cracker Childhood paddles the southeast Georgia river and creates a book that is part natural history, part earth-mother meditation.
UNKNOWN FEMALE (Pill Hill Press)
Marietta native Brian Ray’s second novel is a love story screaming to be made into a Tim Burton movie—brilliant and unsettling. Marx Thoreau, the deeply haunted son of a serial killer, is now a forensic artist, sculpting young women who died unspeakable deaths.
BIGGER THAN A BREAD BOX (Random House Books for Young Readers)
(For ages eight to twelve) Atlanta author Laurel Snyder deals with real issues—ruptured families, unemployment, etc.—through the eyes of twelve-year-old Rebecca, who discovers in her grandmother’s attic an old bread box with the power to grant any wish.
Photograph by Brad Dececco