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Faults aside, this supernatural mystery will appeal to fans of the genre, and the story’s conclusion leaves wide the door...

If you knew something bad was going to happen, would you try to change the future?

Charlotte Westing is an Oracle, and as such, she must follow three rules: never to reveal herself as an Oracle to non-Oracles; never to give in to the visions; and if a vision gets through, never to try to change the future. At age 6, Charlotte broke the third rule, costing her father his life. Ten years later, a stronger-than-normal vision breaks through 16-year-old Charlotte’s carefully constructed psychic defenses, foretelling the murder of a classmate. Charlotte wants to act, but she is too late. After a second ominous vision, she warns the potential victim, but it’s no help. As visions of the dead increase, and the bodies start piling up, Charlotte must decide whether to break all the rules in order to stop a serial killer and save lives. Oddly, the Sisters of Delphi seem disinclined to intervene in Charlotte’s rule breaking, but perhaps official consequence is being saved for sequels. The story is sometimes predictable and goes a bit too fast in places—readers will quickly lose track of visions and victims—but it’s full of gripping tension, and Charlotte is a self-aware and likable narrator, determined to use her powers for good.

Faults aside, this supernatural mystery will appeal to fans of the genre, and the story’s conclusion leaves wide the door for possible future installments. (Supernatural thriller. 15-17)

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-199903-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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From the Tweed & Nightingale series , Vol. 2

Busy, but at least there’s a death ray

A pair of teen detectives bops between London and Cairo in a steampunk adventure that would probably make a better movie than it does a book.

Octavia Nightingale and Sebastian Tweed return in this sequel to The Lazarus Machine (2012), solving mysteries in a Victorian London jam-packed with automatons powered by human souls and carriages running on Tesla turbines. Their search for Octavia’s kidnapped mother entangles them in a larger mystery, with missing scientists and Egyptophile cultists around every corner. Each solved puzzle reveals a further complication: traitors, lizard people, rocket launchers—even a secret world. Perhaps the number of threads is too many to keep under control; some characters are dropped abruptly, while one major arc comes to a character-building ending without ever developing through a beginning or middle. The overall mystery is impenetrable, but the set dressing of “vacuum tubes and and gears, clocks, glass beakers filled with strange liquids, and disassembled automatons” makes the right backdrop for a novel that climaxes with an airship-vs.-ornithopter dogfight over London. Purists take note: Among the myriad errors and inconsistencies are copious anachronisms detracting from the Victorian feel.

Busy, but at least there’s a death ray . (Steampunk. 15-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61614-857-7

Page Count: 295

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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An overbusy mishmash

A Nutcracker retelling includes a Victorian mob princess/warrior heroine, an alternate New York City, steampunk faeries and an epic multigenerational battle.

Seventeen-year-old Clara is the daughter of New York’s mayor—which is to say her father is the poor dupe that organized crime has mounted as figurehead leader. Heartless Patricia Plum and depraved Dr. Victor are the real leaders, with the city at their mercy. When Dr. Victor isn’t committing vile tortures on the bodies of imprisoned waifs, he’s sexually harassing Clara, who’s afraid to fight back. She could fight back, however, because Clara’s Godfather has spent his life training her to become the kind of fighter one only sees in computer games, with a tear-away gown hiding her many knives. These skills will serve her well when she’s thrust into the fairyland Cane, accompanied by sexy prince Nicholas, who until recently was a statue: a sinister, repulsively marked statue she’d always found fascinating and more recently erotic. In Cane, the humans (who once tortured faeries for fun) have been defeated by the equally sadistic and sexually threatening faeries, who force all humans to become drug addicts. Perhaps Clara can help, or maybe she’ll succumb to the homoerotic advances of the evil queen.

An overbusy mishmash . (Fantasy. 15-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6598-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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