A simplistic entry in the genre for undemanding fans of Downton Abbey.

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SUSPICION

This omnibus paranormal/mystery/suspense/romance follows as many gothic memes as possible within a modern setting.

New Yorker Imogen, 17, inherits an English dukedom, which embroils her in a centuries-old mystery. During childhood visits, she fell in love with Lord Sebastian Stanhope. He, however, became attached to her cousin Lucia in the interim. But now Lucia has died, making orphaned Imogen the only remaining heir. Imogen appears to be the direct descendant of Lady Beatrice, hanged as a witch in the early 1800s (some 150 or so years after the last recorded witch hanging in England, but who cares about historical accuracy when there is a trope to exploit?). The young duchess has inherited her progenitor’s supernatural power to grow flowers in an instant, among other useful abilities. She must also contend with such genre staples as the cold and intimidating housekeeper and her daughter, the nasty maid. A murder mystery explodes into the plot; can Imogen use her powers to unravel the mystery? Unfortunately, the entire effort is rife with clichés. In keeping with the genre, all protagonists are extraordinarily beautiful/handsome, all major characters are titled, and the palatial mansion has four turrets and a supernatural garden maze.

A simplistic entry in the genre for undemanding fans of Downton Abbey. (Paranormal romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74389-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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

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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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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