A well-paced, clever and scary supernatural-suspense story.

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HAUNTING VIOLET

In Victorian England, the daughter of a fake medium finds herself embroiled in a murder mystery when she starts seeing real ghosts.

Sixteen-year-old Violet has learned to pick pockets and set up rooms for fake séances, but she knows she’ll be stuck in poverty if she doesn’t marry a wealthy man. Fortunately she’s beautiful, and her domineering mother’s growing fame as a medium has brought them to the country estate of Lord Jasper, a devotee of spiritualism. Almost immediately, Violet begins seeing the apparition of Rowena, a wealthy girl who drowned the year before. It’s clear to Violet, though, that Rowena was murdered and that the dead girl’s haughty twin sister faces equal danger. Harvey keeps the narrative moving smoothly and well as she weaves romance, suspense and even a bit of comedy into the story. She portrays many of Lord Jasper’s aristocratic guests convincingly as snobbish and uncaring, although a few befriend Violet. The author makes her fantasy believable by having Violet see not just one ghost, but roomfuls of them, both ancient and modern. Most endearingly, Violet’s newly found ghost dog attaches itself to her as though it were a living pet.

A well-paced, clever and scary supernatural-suspense story. (Paranormal suspense. 12 & up)

Pub Date: June 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9839-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.

CODE NAME VERITY

Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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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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