Enjoyable for Buffy fans and general paranormal enthusiasts.

IN EVERY GENERATION

Sunnydale has a new slayer.

Set in the world of TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this first installment in a new series focuses on a new generation. Frankie Rosenberg’s mom is the powerful witch Willow, friend to famed slayer Buffy. Frankie’s own minimal powers are mostly used for ecological purposes until there’s an explosion at a slayers’ meeting, leading Frankie to become the first ever slayer-witch. A slayer needs her crew of Scoobies, and under the guidance of Watcher Spike, Frankie is assisted by Hailey, half sister of missing slayer Vi; werewolf lacrosse player Jake; and Sigmund, a Sage demon. Frankie may be new to the gig, but she has to learn quickly because there’s a new Big Bad in Sunnydale who is out for blood. The book provides enough information for patient newcomers to the Buffyverse to enjoy the story, but it will be most appealing to those with at least some background knowledge who will appreciate the references. Though the pacing is inconsistent, exciting action scenes abound, and the villain is intriguing and delightfully vicious. The characters’ banter and observations are often cheeky and funny but sometimes fall flat, as when they are based on gender stereotypes. The abrupt ending satisfyingly wraps up some plots, but there are plenty left open for future entries. Most characters are White; Hailey’s mom was Saulteaux First Nations, and Sigmund is Black.

Enjoyable for Buffy fans and general paranormal enthusiasts. (Paranormal. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-07502-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

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BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

HIDDEN PICTURES

A disturbing household secret has far-reaching consequences in this dark, unusual ghost story.

Mallory Quinn, fresh out of rehab and recovering from a recent tragedy, has taken a job as a nanny for an affluent couple living in the upscale suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey, when a series of strange events start to make her (and her employers) question her own sanity. Teddy, the precocious and shy 5-year-old boy she's charged with watching, seems to be haunted by a ghost who channels his body to draw pictures that are far too complex and well formed for such a young child. At first, these drawings are rather typical: rabbits, hot air balloons, trees. But then the illustrations take a dark turn, showcasing the details of a gruesome murder; the inclusion of the drawings, which start out as stick figures and grow increasingly more disturbing and sophisticated, brings the reader right into the story. With the help of an attractive young gardener and a psychic neighbor and using only the drawings as clues, Mallory must solve the mystery of the house's grizzly past before it's too late. Rekulak does a great job with character development: Mallory, who narrates in the first person, has an engaging voice; the Maxwells' slightly overbearing parenting style and passive-aggressive quips feel very familiar; and Teddy is so three-dimensional that he sometimes feels like a real child.

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81934-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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