It’s as if there’d been no interruption; this installment is sure to please Alex’s legions of fans

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NEVER SAY DIE

From the Alex Rider series , Vol. 11

After ending his Alex Rider series with flashback volume Russian Roulette (2013), Horowitz revives his bestselling adventure series, sending his hero on a pursuit that is very, very personal.

Held captive by sadistic enemies in Scorpia Rising (2011), Alex was forced to watch the murder of his best friend and caregiver, Jack Starbright. Now safe, recovered from his wounds, and with his enemies dead, the white, English teen has moved to San Francisco with his foster family, the Pleasures, also white. He’s trying to live a normal life; he’s going to school, trying to fit in, not standing out even though he’d like nothing better than to trounce the local bullies. Then, out of the blue, he receives a truncated email: “ALEXX / I’M AL.” Immediately, against all odds, he knows that Jack’s alive and trying to reach out to him. His guardians don’t believe it, having seen the footage of Jack’s death. But Alex won’t give up—and it doesn’t take him long to slip away and start a globe-trekking search for the only person who has always been there for him. The time has come to be there for her, regardless of the consequences, with or without the help of his friends from MI6. This time, he’s on his own. In his usual breakneck fashion, Horowitz whisks Alex from one improbable situation to another, all of which Alex survives by using his wits and whatever else happens to be at hand.

It’s as if there’d been no interruption; this installment is sure to please Alex’s legions of fans . (Thriller. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3930-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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