Highly frightening and effective.

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THE BOY MEETS GIRL MASSACRE (ANNOTATED)

A disturbed girl takes a night job in a notoriously haunted hotel with disastrous results.

Sixteen-year-old Noelle has spent her childhood taking care of her despised, morbidly obese, chronically ill father. To escape, she accepts a job at The Boy Meets Girl Inn, site of a famous mass murder and, local residents believe, massively haunted. Hogarth tells most of the story through Noelle’s diary, which, after Noelle’s death in the 1990s, falls into the hands of a movie producer who intends to make a whole series of fright films based on it. Noelle endows the diary with life and speaks to it as another character. Readers see her increasingly unhinged writing, punctuated by several fugue-state entries in which she appears to interact with the local ghosts and torture a cat, although these episodes may be completely imaginary. The author paints Noelle as the mother of all unreliable narrators, allowing readers to make up their own minds about her possible guilt. Could she actually have killed herself by hitting herself in the head with a pickax as the diary strongly implies? That possibility, the gruesome murders involving cannibalism, and the cat-torture scenes make this book disturbing enough to contend with serious horror novels. The annotations in the diary by the producer lend the book a nice psychological verisimilitude.

Highly frightening and effective. (Horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4472-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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