Another clichéd haunted house story.

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THIS IS NOT A GHOST STORY

Despite growing signs of paranormal activity, Daffodil Turner refuses to abandon her housesitting job.

It’s the summer before college, and Daffodil needs money to fund her new life—the one she’s hoping will be better than her old one. Feeling strangely compelled by the sight of clusters of daffodils, she jumps off the train on her way to the Main Line, Philadelphia, campus and finds herself at the door of a slightly intimidating old house. Luckily, the owner has a job for her: overseeing a renovation project while he’s gone. This suits Daffodil perfectly; she can hide in her attic bedroom and not feel pressured to pretend to be happy. But soon Daffodil’s nights spent binge-watching Ancient Aliens are interrupted; she feels a dark force watching her. Another night, a scratching noise grows louder, seemingly aware of her presence—and that’s just the beginning. As eerie occurrences veer into violence, Daffodil rationalizes away the idea that anything’s wrong. She needs this job; if she doesn’t get paid, she has to go home to Nebraska. She’d rather face all the horrors the house can muster, as well as painful memories from her past, than surrender. Daffodil’s first-person narration works against the story; the horrors read as told, not shown, and her extreme denial grows tiresome. The final twist reads as both obvious and in conflict with Daffodil’s fiercely independent character. All characters are White.

Another clichéd haunted house story. (Paranormal thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-242244-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Chilling, poignant, haunting, and, unfortunately, all too timely.

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THE GRACE YEAR

A rebellious 16-year-old is sent to an isolated island for her grace year, when she must release her seductive, poisonous magic into the wild before taking her proper place as a wife and child bearer.

In gaslit Garner County, women and girls are said to harbor diabolical magic capable of manipulating men. Dreaming, among other things, is forbidden, and before girls embark on their grace year, they hope to receive a veil, which promises marriage. Otherwise, it’s life in a labor house—or worse. Strong, outdoorsy, skeptical Tierney James doesn’t want to be married, but a shocking twist leaves her with a veil—and a dangerous enemy in the vindictive Kiersten. Thirty-three girls with red ribbons symbolizing sin woven into their braids set out to survive the island, but it won’t be easy. Poachers, who trade in the body parts of grace-year girls, surround the camp, and paranoia, superstition, and mistrust rule. Not everyone will make it home alive. The bones of Liggett’s (The Unfortunates, 2018, etc.) tale of female repression are familiar ones, but her immersive storytelling effortlessly weaves horror elements with a harrowing and surprising survival story. Profound moments lie in small details, and readers’ hearts will race and break right along with the brave, capable Tierney’s. The biggest changes often begin with the smallest rebellions, and the emotional conclusion will resonate. All characters are assumed white.

Chilling, poignant, haunting, and, unfortunately, all too timely. (Dystopian. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-14544-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide To Murder series , Vol. 1

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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