Light on explicit grue but well endowed with macabre detail and leavening dashes of humor.

ON THE DAY I DIED

STORIES FROM THE GRAVE

Nine creepy tales told by dead teens and positively tailor-made for reading—or reading aloud—by flashlight.

Fleming uses a version of “The Vanishing Hitchhiker” as a frame story and draws inspiration from several classic horror shorts, monster movies and actual locales and incidents. Within this frame, she sends a teenager into a remote cemetery where ghostly young people regale him with the ghastly circumstances of their demises. These range from being sucked into a magical mirror to being partially eaten by a mutant rubber ducky, from being brained by a falling stone gargoyle at an abandoned asylum to drowning in a car driven by a demonic hood ornament. Tasty elements include a malign monkey’s paw purchased at a flea market, a spider crawling out of a corpse’s mouth and a crazed florist who collects the heads of famous gangsters. Amid these, the author tucks in period details, offers one story written in the style of Edgar Allan Poe (“As I pondered the wallpaper, its patterns seemed to crawl deep inside me, revealing dark secrets… No!”) and caps the collection with perceptive comments on her themes and sources.

Light on explicit grue but well endowed with macabre detail and leavening dashes of humor. (Horror/short stories. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86781-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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AKATA WITCH

Who can't love a story about a Nigerian-American 12-year-old with albinism who discovers latent magical abilities and saves the world? Sunny lives in Nigeria after spending the first nine years of her life in New York. She can't play soccer with the boys because, as she says, "being albino made the sun my enemy," and she has only enemies at school. When a boy in her class, Orlu, rescues her from a beating, Sunny is drawn in to a magical world she's never known existed. Sunny, it seems, is a Leopard person, one of the magical folk who live in a world mostly populated by ignorant Lambs. Now she spends the day in mundane Lamb school and sneaks out at night to learn magic with her cadre of Leopard friends: a handsome American bad boy, an arrogant girl who is Orlu’s childhood friend and Orlu himself. Though Sunny's initiative is thin—she is pushed into most of her choices by her friends and by Leopard adults—the worldbuilding for Leopard society is stellar, packed with details that will enthrall readers bored with the same old magical worlds. Meanwhile, those looking for a touch of the familiar will find it in Sunny's biggest victories, which are entirely non-magical (the detailed dynamism of Sunny's soccer match is more thrilling than her magical world saving). Ebulliently original. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01196-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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Definitely a continuation rather than a freestanding episode, but the author keeps her ongoing plot galloping along and adds...

THE TWILIGHT CIRCUS

From the Wolven series , Vol. 2

An old foe sets a deadly trap for two young werewolves in a sequel framed by family reunions and positively festooned with hideous vampires.

Magical creatures are rising up all over Europe. Recently bitten teen Nat and his shapechanging BF Woody have joined Nat’s father and a traveling circus of fauns, furies and other cryptids (“All the incredible things you are about to see are REAL!” the Ringmaster disingenuously informs excited audiences) in France. Almost immediately, they are attacked by flights of fantastically ugly bloodsuckers under the command of a malign and crafty vampire revived by the previous episode’s über-villain Lucas Scale. Fortunately the lads/cubs have on their side not only Alexandra Fish, hypercompetent young vampire slayer and British secret agent, but Woody’s Wolven relatives—a reclusive clan of particularly powerful white werewolves. Along with vampires that explode in gross showers of gooey ichor when staked, Toft tucks in the odd colorful turn of phrase (“…feeling about as nervous as a small nun at a penguin shoot”) and fart joke to lighten the load. She leaves her doggy buddies at the end alive and resolved to join Fish in putting paid to Scale’s demonic schemes.

Definitely a continuation rather than a freestanding episode, but the author keeps her ongoing plot galloping along and adds an assortment of marvelous new creatures to the cast.   (Fantasy.10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-29492-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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