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

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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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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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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