Books by Nancy Werlin

Released: June 6, 2017

"Fans of nonstop action will appreciate the breakneck pace, but those hoping for plumbing of character may grow fatigued. (Thriller. 14-18)"
After a roof mysteriously collapses on five students from Rockland Academy, the teens realize their parents wants them dead. Read full book review >
UNTHINKABLE by Nancy Werlin
Released: June 9, 2013

"Unpleasant, unlikable and unbalanced. (Fantasy. 14-18)"
Held captive by the man who killed her lover, psychologically and sexually abused, forced to watch successive generations of young girls treated similarly and then killed: This sounds more ripped from the headlines than fantasy. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

Phoebe Rothschild—yes, of those Rothschilds—dumps her toxic friends for new girl Mallory in seventh grade. After four years of best friendship, Mallory is gorgeous and stylish—and, unbeknownst to Phoebe, she's also not human. In brief snippets between chapters, readers learn that Mallory has been sent by the faerie queene to manipulate Phoebe for some dark purpose. When Mallory fails (or refuses) to bring Phoebe into line, the faeries send Mallory's brother Ryland, who glamours Phoebe into dazed, romantic compliance. This is no typical paranormal romance: Phoebe's conviction of Ryland's shimmering worth and her belief that she is unworthy are portrayed as uncannily dreadful. This proudly Jewish fantasy offers a compelling tale of friendship and a refreshing antidote to faerie stories about that one special girl deserving of supernatural love. Beguiling as it is, though, this modern fairy tale isn't quite up to the standards of Werlin's thrillers and darker fare. Can we enjoy this while hoping future fantastic outings share the taut construction of The Killer's Cousin (1998), Double Helix (2004) and The Rules of Survival (2006)? (Fantasy. YA)Read full book review >
IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

In this modern-day fairy tale, 17-year-old Lucy and her loved ones apply 21st-century rationality to their quest to escape an ancient curse. Lucy lives with the beloved foster parents who have cared for her since her teenage mother went crazy after Lucy's birth. But what Lucy and her parents don't know is that it's not just Lucy's mother who went mad, but her grandmother, her great-grandmother and further back, through countless generations: She is descended from a long line of women who have babies at age 18 and then go mad. It all seems to be connected to an ancient fairy curse that's detailed in a strange version of the song "Scarborough Fair." Together with her parents and childhood friend Zach, Lucy vows to break the curse. Modern logic and methodology mesh splendidly with fairy lore; if emergency contraception won't break the curse, then maybe duct tape will. The conclusion is startlingly wholesome, comfortable and complete for the usually dark Werlin, and the melding of magic and practicality produces a lovely whole. (Fantasy. 13-16)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

In this heartbreaking tale of abuse and love, 14-year-old Matthew rescues himself and his younger sisters from a dangerously unstable mother. Nikki's abusive behavior would be hard for a police officer or social worker to identify. She doesn't beat them (much) or sexually molest them. Instead, the children survive manic behavior, mood swings, reckless endangerment and constant, unremitting fear. No benevolent adults can rescue the children: Matthew's absent father loves his children but not as much as he fears his crazy ex-wife; Aunt Bobbie closes her eyes to the violence and psychological abuse she knows occurs; and social services, Matthew knows, are utterly useless. As Nikki's mental problems descend further into dangerous psychosis, Matthew looks for a rescuer. Though he thinks he's found a fairy godfather in protective neighbor Murdoch, the instigation to push the adults into doing the right thing comes from Matthew himself. Beautifully framed as a letter from Matthew to his younger sister, the suspense is paced to keep Matthew's survival and personal revelations chock-full of dramatic tension. Bring tissues. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
DOUBLE HELIX by Nancy Werlin
Released: March 1, 2004

Tragedy and family politics combine for a suspenseful exploration of love and bioethics. Brilliant Eli has been fighting with his father for months. The fight began when Eli refused to apply to college, but the communication breakdown is rooted in their unshared and inarticulate grief over Eli's mother. The genetic disease that will eventually kill her has left Eli's once-loving mother shamefully insane. Desperate to escape home for the summer, Eli takes a job with the brilliant Dr. Wyatt. He's lucky to get a chance to work with the famous geneticist, but his father is furious. Some terrible secret lies between Dr. Wyatt and Eli's parents, which must explain Dr. Wyatt's fascination with Eli, and Eli's father's hatred of Dr. Wyatt. There will be no easy answers for Eli as he explores the mystery of his own past, and of the compellingly beautiful girl to whom Dr. Wyatt introduces him. Thought-provoking, powerful, and rich in character. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
BLACK MIRROR by Nancy Werlin
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

New England boarding-school junior Frances Leventhal endangers herself when she looks into her brother Daniel's suicide. As freshmen, Frances and Daniel received scholarships to Pettengill thanks to Unity, a charitable organization started by a recent alum. Daniel and other scholarship students volunteer for Unity, but Frances never wanted to. Shocked when Daniel dies of a heroin overdose, Frances realizes she didn't really know him and, in remorse, starts working for Unity. But the organization's lackluster food pantry, its arrogant leader, and strange conversations she overhears make Frances increasingly suspicious. She doesn't know whom to tell; her father, an unsuccessful writer, is emotionally distant, and her mother has returned to her native Japan to join a Buddhist monastery. Finally, Frances trusts a grounds worker who is slightly mentally retarded but steady and thoughtful. Meanwhile, Frances, who struggles with her Jewish/Japanese heritage and appearance, expresses her confusion and anger through art, which provides one of the themes: "If you think you already know what you're looking at, you might not see what's really there." Frances recognizes that she has been blind about herself and her brother, whose true personality emerges subtly through her memories of him. Although the confirmation of Frances's suspicions falls a bit flat, the story's twists keep the reader guessing from beginning to end. Werlin (Locked Inside, 2000, etc.) has once again excelled in combining a skillfully wrought plot with fully developed characters and rich themes. (Fiction. 12+)Read full book review >
LOCKED INSIDE by Nancy Werlin
Released: Feb. 1, 2000

From Werlin, a meaty tale of self-discovery, wrapped in encounters between two computer gamers and a dangerously unstable kidnapper. Poster child for passive-aggressive behavior, hyper-wealthy orphan Marnie has blown off her studies in favor of spending hours online as the sorceress Llewellyne, battling monsters and a sharp rival known as Elf in virtual Paliopolis. Closed-off and hostile since the death of her unwed mother, Skye (a gospel singer turned author of uplifting bestsellers), Marnie pays the price for her self-imposed isolation: Leah, a teacher from her exclusive private school, kidnaps her, imprisons her in a windowless cellar room, and tremulously informs her—at gunpoint—that they are secret half-sisters. Enter Elf, actually a shaved-head prep school senior named Frank, who dashes to the "rescue" just in time to bollix Marnie's escape, becomes another hostage, then sticks around afterward to teach her about friendship. Although the kidnapping, for all its high-pitched drama, adds a measure of suspense, this is more about Marnie's learning how to let her mother go, which she does, but not before Leah shoots herself, Frank exhibits some endearing vulnerability beneath a veneer of macho rebellion, and brutal revelations about Skye's past emerge. Leaving much between the lines, Werlin concocts a thriller for thoughtful readers. (Fiction. 12-15) Read full book review >