Francie may not be a real detective, but she is so confident that there’s never really any doubt of her eventual success,...

ENCHANTMENT LAKE

A NORTHWOODS MYSTERY

From the Enchantment Lake series , Vol. 1

Preus, author of the Newbery Honor–winning Heart of a Samurai (2010), is known for her engrossing historical fiction. Now she changes pace and offers a mystery set in the present.

Francie, 17 and fresh off a television gig in which she played a teen detective, is frantically called back to her lakeside childhood vacation home in northern Minnesota. Her two great-aunts, flaky but endearing, who own the isolated cottage, believe someone is murdering their neighbors in an effort to gain access to a large tract of real estate. They’ve represented Francie as a real New York detective, a lie the townspeople somewhat implausibly buy into, and she begins a halfhearted investigation. Effectively combining some mildly scary treks through the dark woods, a growing sense of peril and a dash of romance in the form of handsome Nels, this mystery will keep readers engaged even though it lacks the punch of previous works. The body count is high, but the actual deaths aren’t depicted, minimizing their potential menace. When the truly malevolent surprise perpetrator is finally revealed from among a group of red herrings, the threat is swiftly eliminated; a minor mystery remains unsolved, suggesting the potential focus of the sequel.

Francie may not be a real detective, but she is so confident that there’s never really any doubt of her eventual success, making her good company but perhaps not riveting reading for hard-core mystery fans. (Mystery. 11-16)

Pub Date: March 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8166-8302-4

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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