When teenage Lovecraft aficionado Sean stumbles across a guide to the classic author’s magic in an old Rhode Island...



From the Redemption’s Heir series , Vol. 2

For the love of Lovecraft.

When teenage Lovecraft aficionado Sean stumbles across a guide to the classic author’s magic in an old Rhode Island bookshop, he finds an email contact for a 17th-century wizard inside. Sean eventually makes the connection, resulting in a series of magical misfires in which he conjures the dark lord himself, creating a murderous, demonic Servitor that could drive him into madness. Pillsworth’s first novel takes a while to hit its stride: The first 70-plus pages are steeped in heaps of Lovecraft-ian lore, which will test even the most patient teen readers. Characterizations and plot all take second place to page upon page of exhaustive Lovecraft history, tales and characters (readers don’t get a sense of what Sean looks like until they’re well into the story, for instance). She also builds an odd supporting cast: Sean’s teen friend disappears from the text only to be replaced by his dad and a 25-year-old student, who take on more than adults usually do in the genre. All this said, the plot does take off once the spells have been cast and the damage is done, and readers—if they can weather the exposition—will find themselves plunged in a race against time as Sean works to uncover how to put an end to the demon he created. A stop-and-go tribute to a classic horror author. (Horror. 12-18) .

A stop-and-go tribute to a classic horror author(Horror. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3589-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.


After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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


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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