Spooky and fun, with substance as well.


Witches face many obstacles in life: fear, prejudice, and sitting at the unpopular table in high school are just a few.

Witches aren’t part of the A squad, as new high schooler Cody learns when her popular upperclassman sister, Bryce, dismisses her to the cafeteria table that is a lunchroom waystation for people who haven’t yet found their place in the social hierarchy. It’s there she meets Faye, the table’s only permanent resident and the school’s resident witch. Cody’s desire to move on brings her into digital contact with shy_shelbi, a social media account that promises to make your dreams come true. Most of those dreams, however, turn out to be nightmares, and it’s up to Faye to begrudgingly save her classmates’ lives. Faye is a mysterious character who brings a lot of baggage with her, some of which is addressed in the book and some of which is hopefully being saved for future stories. The ending hints at a new path for the young witch, and readers who identify with feeling a little out of place in school or life will be begging to learn when the adventure continues. Many will appreciate the messages centered around popularity, acceptance, self-confidence, and the influence of social media. The expressive artwork enhances the mood through heavy use of black and shades of glowing orange and atmospheric teal. Main characters are White-presenting; there is diversity in the background cast.

Spooky and fun, with substance as well. (Graphic fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4810-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Macabre and melodramatic.


Four teens spend an unsettling weekend at a fancy hotel in this Dutch import.

It has been almost a year since Fender, Kate, and Lucas lost a friend—but they don’t talk about her anymore. Thanks to Kate’s dad’s work meeting, they’ve got rooms at the five-star Riverside Hotel to celebrate Kate’s birthday weekend—supposedly there will be adult supervision, but in reality, they’re largely left to their own devices. The trio will be joined by their new friend from school, Linnea, who seems to have filled in all the gaps left behind by their friend who is gone. Fender and Linnea alternate as first-person narrators along with a creepy unnamed voice who stalks them both. It’s that voice that’s in the threatening messages delivered to Fender’s door on room service trays and written in black marker on the walls of Kate and Linnea’s room. That voice, brusque and accusatory, directs the narrative, creating suspense with a growing feeling of dread as it alludes to sexual assault, murder, and suicide. The characters are compelling enough to keep the pages turning, and the emotions, both intense and mercurial, feel apt for a young adult novel. The ending, however, feels anticlimactic, the twist not quite sufficient to justify the magnitude of the horror in all the preceding hints. Main characters are assumed White.

Macabre and melodramatic. (author’s note) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17598-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Underlined

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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