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Michael Dennis
Lonely Riders

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Embark on a journey of heart-pounding suspense and mind-bending twists with "Lonely Riders," the captivating novel by author Michael D. Dennis. In the sprawling city of Los Angeles, Kyle Whalen's life takes an unexpected turn as he navigates the chaos of love, loss, and a reality-shattering experiment.
This genre-crossing story of punkish romance and an out-of-time Los Angeles begins on Valentine's Day. Knowing Elise's penchant for traditional celebrations, amateur chef Kyle—a grunge-era “anarchist” lacking “the drive or commitment to really protest the government”—surprises her with a romantic dinner in their loft, only to be surprised in return by the news that Elise, a fashion “tastemaker,” has lost her job with a well-known luxury hat company. The night takes a sad turn when he finds her bloodied on the bathroom floor—not for the first time. Facing financial strain, Kyle's encounter with a mysterious scientist offering a job becomes their pivotal lifeline.

With sharp-elbowed prose, slicing cultural commentary, and a zeal for surprise, Dennis disrupts genre expectations, transitioning from contemporary romance to a blend of erotica, science fiction, and psychological apocalyptic fantasy. Kyle agrees to be part of an outlandish experiment: enter a time-travel portal. Kyle does, and Dennis seizes the opportunity to conjure wild, dramatic images of conflagration and destruction, weird creations—Riders, Wraiths, Washouts, and the witch Epiphany, with whom Kyle will forge a surprising and intimate connection. Visions of a ruined Los Angeles and talk of a prophecy have unsettling power, but one thing in Kyle’s adventures with wormholes and Telepaths truly scares him: forgetting Elise. "It was too easy to forget your past in this place,” Kyle says of an uncanny Los Angeles. “ It was like you'd been brainwashed, but you could be whoever you wanted to be."

An unsettled and unsettling ending finds Kyle tested in ways readers won’t anticipate, as he battles for a seemingly lost humanity. Themes of survivalism and the endurance of love amidst temptations and forgetfulness resonate, though the story’s pointed provocations, flights of poetic language, and circuitous mysteries will challenge readers. Still, there’s urgency to the key questions: whether Kyle will reunite with Elise and return to his present or survive with others in a ravaged world.

Takeaway: Unsettling, genre-bending, apocalyptic time-traveling literary lulu.

Comparable Titles: Gene Doucette’s The Apocalypse Seven, Lee Kelly’s With Regrets.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-