Sinister and twisted, this Faustian page-turner enlightens as it frightens.

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DREAMS COME TO LIFE

From the Bendy and the Ink Machine series , Vol. 1

Kress (The Quest for the Kid, 2019, etc.) creates a hair-raising tale based on the popular survival horror video game “Bendy and the Ink Machine.”

She capitalizes on its survivalist plot and creepy ambience by setting her story—like the video game—largely on the premises of Joey Drew Studios, a New York City–based production house dedicated to creating “Bendy” cartoons. Emulating the shifting perspective of this genre, in which players have less control than in a typical action video game, the 16-year-old Jewish protagonist, Daniel “Buddy” Lewek, begins his story by ominously looking back to the summer of 1946, warning readers that while dreams may come true, nightmares do as well. Though somewhat cagey as a narrator, Buddy is an extremely likable character, having dropped out of school to help support his recently widowed mother. He’s now dealing with the unannounced arrival to their Lower East Side tenement of his Polish grandfather, who speaks little English, is pale and shockingly thin, and has strange numbers tattooed on his arm. Buddy thinks his dreams of financial solvency and becoming an artist are about to become a reality when Mister Drew hires him to be an errand boy and art apprentice, but he soon discovers something as dark as the ink that animates the Bendy figures lurks in the Drew Studios halls, forcing him to reexamine his entire worldview.

Sinister and twisted, this Faustian page-turner enlightens as it frightens. (Horror. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-34394-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

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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A riveting tour de force.

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SADIE

Sadie is seeking her sister’s killer; months later, podcast producer West McCray seeks to learn why Sadie abandoned her car and vanished.

When Mattie was born to Claire, a white, drug-addicted, single mother, Sadie, 6, became her de facto parent. Her baby sister’s love filled a hole in Sadie’s fiercely protective heart. Claire favored Mattie, who remained attached to her long after Claire disappeared from their grim, trailer-park home in rural Colorado. Sadie believes that Mattie’s determination to find Claire—which Sadie opposed—led to her brutal murder at age 13. Now 19, Sadie sets out to find and kill the man she holds responsible for her sister’s murder. Interwoven with Sadie’s first-person account is the transcript of McCray’s podcast series, The Girls, tracking his efforts to learn what’s happened to Sadie, prompted and partly guided by the sisters’ sympathetic neighbor. West’s off-the-record conversations are also included. Sadie is smart, observant, tough, and at times heartbreakingly vulnerable, her interactions mediated by a profound stutter. In the podcast, characters first seen through Sadie’s ruthless eyes further reveal (or conceal) their interactions and motives. Like Salla Simukka’s Lumikki Andersson, Sadie’s a powerful avatar: the justice-seeking loner incarnated as a teenage girl. Sadie exempts no one—including herself—from her unsparing judgment. Conveyed indirectly through its effect on victims, child sexual abuse permeates the novel as does poverty’s intergenerational legacy.

A riveting tour de force. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10571-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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