Pulse-pounding thrills leavened with laughter.

GIRL OF NIGHTMARES

A satisfying conclusion to ghostly Anna’s terrifying story comes with more heart-thumping suspense and clever quips as Cas tries to save her from an undeserved, dreadful fate.

In the outstanding Anna Dressed in Blood (2011), the ghost, Anna, saved Cas, the ghost-killer, by dragging the voodoo monster, Obeahman, down into Hell. Now she’s back, asking Cas to rescue her, and he’s determined to do it despite all advice to the contrary. This sequel takes Cas and his friends to Britain and a secret cult that wants Cas’ athame, the magical knife that kills ghosts. There he meets Jestine, who believes she should be the next athame warrior, although unlike Cas, she wants to kill ghosts whether or not they’re dangerous to humans. She joins Cas for the final showdown against the Obeahman, who ate both Cas’ cat and his father and now holds Anna hostage. Blake provides enough background explanation to bring new readers into the story, but for full appreciation, readers should start with book one. This new author has a serious talent for action but also for delicious dry humor (“I’ve sort of been slacking off in my voodoo studies. I’ve got trigonometry, you know?”). The exciting conclusion leaves the coast clear for a whole series starring Cas or for something entirely different, whatever the author wishes. Either way, Stephen King ought to start looking over his shoulder.

Pulse-pounding thrills leavened with laughter. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2866-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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A layered, stylized, brooding mystery that will draw readers in.

A LESSON IN VENGEANCE

A young woman’s return to her monied boarding school is haunted by the trauma of her girlfriend’s recent death and the school’s rumored history involving witchcraft in this contemporary thriller.

Felicity Morrow’s senior year was cut short after her girlfriend Alex died, and her decision to return to the Dalloway School because “being friendless at Dalloway was better than being friendless anywhere else” makes clear her feelings of isolation. It’s seemingly inevitable that she’ll be drawn into the orbit of infamous new student Ellis Haley, who, despite her young age, has already written a Pulitzer-winning novel. Amid a fantastical, darkly atmospheric haze of cigarette smoke and hard alcohol, Felicity agrees to assist Ellis in her research about the Dalloway Five, girls whose gruesome deaths centuries earlier at the school are shrouded in mystery and who were the subject of her own abandoned senior thesis. Richly imagined queer characters, including Ellis’ older nonbinary sibling, Quinn, are the stars of this story, which incrementally reveals truths about Alex’s death as it winds the bond between Felicity and Ellis ever tighter, spinning a tale rife with literary references, magnetic romance, and occasionally melodramatic but menacing gothic tropes out to its end. The protagonists are cued White; there is ethnic diversity in secondary and background characters.

A layered, stylized, brooding mystery that will draw readers in. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30582-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A promising premise that doesn’t quite deliver.

GOOD GIRLS DIE FIRST

An abandoned carnival on an island connected to a British seaside town by a milelong pier is the setting for this atmospheric thriller.

Ava receives an invitation to go to Portgrave Pier at 8 p.m.—followed by the ominous question, can you keep a secret? When she arrives, she finds that she was not the only person to receive such a note. In addition, each invitation contains a seemingly innocuous photo that relates to something the recipient is hiding. Ava suspects this is a blackmail scheme, but who could be behind it: Esme the ice queen, bad boy Noah, or even her best friend, Jolie? The targets end up on the island, Allhallows Rock, and then the pier collapses, leaving them stranded with one of their number lying injured on the rocks. Ava feels time playing tricks on her while others are saying creepy, nonsensical things. Little does the group know that they are all playing a deadly game masterminded by Whispers, the man in the mirrors, who will torment the group with their secrets until they give in. The third-person narrative centers on Ava and nine other teens. Despite the interesting concept, creepy villain, and eerie setting, the large number of underdeveloped characters makes the story difficult to follow. However, the sizable cast offers an opportunity for some discussion of struggles like substance abuse, date rape, and disordered eating. Olive-skinned Ava has wavy dark hair; there is some ethnic diversity among the other characters.

A promising premise that doesn’t quite deliver. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72824-541-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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