Loaded with commentary, word definitions and story expansions, this fantastic debut young adult novel is a fast-moving,...

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THE LOST SPELLS

A displaced 12-year-old finds magic and adventure right in his new backyard.

Karl’s summer break isn’t shaping up to be as much fun as he had hoped. When his father is betrayed by a business partner, the family has to sell everything in order to pay off the debts incurred by the resulting lawsuits. Forced out of their luxurious San Francisco home, the family moves to a broken-down ranch house nestled in an Arizonan canyon near Tucson. The relocation puts a terrible strain on the family and the parents argue the whole way there. The only bright spot is that Aunt Kathy allows the family to live there rent-free. Karl, his brother and their parents begin the long process of cleaning and restoring the ranch home and soon discover that things are not as they seem. Karl discovers writing in a spider web but chalks it up to too many hours spent in front of his computer exploring virtual worlds, worlds he won’t be revisiting anytime soon under the family’s new restrictive budget. Next, Karl receives a dire warning from a neighborhood boy, which makes him wonder all the more about his new home. But when Karl meets a talking spider and sees an old woman’s face in his window, he is absolutely convinced that strange forces are at work. Soon Karl teams up with Mary, a spider who was once a girl. With only an old magic spell book and their wits and imagination to guide them, Karl and Mary battle Vira the Witch in order to defend their canyon home, return Mary to her human form and save Karl’s family. For in this Tucson canyon, stripped of material distractions, Karl’s family has forged a bond worth fighting a dragon and enchanted bats for.

Loaded with commentary, word definitions and story expansions, this fantastic debut young adult novel is a fast-moving, magical, action-adventure story that unobtrusively passes along a few lessons on how to disengage from the virtual world and develop solid values.

Pub Date: June 2, 2009

ISBN: 978-1442156555

Page Count: 294

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2010

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Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

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IF IT BLEEDS

The master of supernatural disaster returns with four horror-laced novellas.

The protagonist of the title story, Holly Gibney, is by King’s own admission one of his most beloved characters, a “quirky walk-on” who quickly found herself at the center of some very unpleasant goings-on in End of Watch, Mr. Mercedes, and The Outsider. The insect-licious proceedings of the last are revisited, most yuckily, while some of King’s favorite conceits turn up: What happens if the dead are never really dead but instead show up generation after generation, occupying different bodies but most certainly exercising their same old mean-spirited voodoo? It won’t please TV journalists to know that the shape-shifting bad guys in that title story just happen to be on-the-ground reporters who turn up at very ugly disasters—and even cause them, albeit many decades apart. Think Jack Torrance in that photo at the end of The Shining, and you’ve got the general idea. “Only a coincidence, Holly thinks, but a chill shivers through her just the same,” King writes, “and once again she thinks of how there may be forces in this world moving people as they will, like men (and women) on a chessboard.” In the careful-what-you-wish-for department, Rat is one of those meta-referential things King enjoys: There are the usual hallucinatory doings, a destiny-altering rodent, and of course a writer protagonist who makes a deal with the devil for success that he thinks will outsmart the fates. No such luck, of course. Perhaps the most troubling story is the first, which may cause iPhone owners to rethink their purchases. King has gone a far piece from the killer clowns and vampires of old, with his monsters and monstrosities taking on far more quotidian forms—which makes them all the scarier.

Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

Pub Date: April 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3797-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

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MEXICAN GOTHIC

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico.

Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family’s crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí’s help, claiming that she is “bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin,” and that High Place is “sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment.” Upon Noemí’s arrival at High Place, she’s struck by the Doyle family’s cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina’s listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven’t left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she’ll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale.

Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-62078-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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