An entertaining and fast-paced supernatural tale.

THE PROBLEM AT WISTERIA GARDENS

A PEKIN DEWLAP MYSTERY #3

From the Pekin Dewlap Mystery series , Vol. 3

Three high school ghostbusters investigate a haunted antiques shop in this YA mystery.

In their first two adventures, Pekin Dewlap and her friends Scout and Amber of Springdale tackled supernatural disturbances with great success, forming a business called The Ghost Company. This summer, the teenagers have a new client in Matt Cooley. Poltergeistlike phenomena in his antiques shop are scaring away customers. With help from their medium friend Mildew Willingham and Miranda Talbert, a specter they previously rescued who has stuck around, the friends make contact with the shop’s ghost. She’s Althea, Matt’s recently deceased mother, who says she’s lonely and only wants her son to notice her: “When Mattie didn’t pay any attention to me, I got madder and madder.” Matt is intensely Type A and doesn’t possess the calm that might allow him to see or hear her, but he agrees to regular get-togethers. Unfortunately, it soon becomes evident that Althea’s true purpose is more nefarious. The Ghosties are challenged to perform a removal ritual that will stick while Pekin deals with jealousy and insecurity that could threaten her relationship with Scout, a childhood friendship that has recently become romantic. In this third series outing, McCord offers the genuinely disturbing prospect of a ghost intending to drain her own son’s life energy. The author keeps this plot element from becoming overly dark through the contrast of more mundane teenage concerns, such as Pekin’s overreaction to a pretty girl’s flirting with her boyfriend. The Ghosties are wholesome but not prissy, with snarky irreverence that helps relieve the tension, as when Althea grumpily declares she’s not an old woman—just older: “ ‘And that’s as old as you’re going to get,’ Scout said.” Efficient storytelling keeps the plot moving quickly toward its satisfying resolution.

An entertaining and fast-paced supernatural tale.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-952112-29-4

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2021

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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