A standout take on the classic haunted-house tale replete with surprises around every shadowy corner.

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THE FALL

A girl struggles to fight the haunted family house that binds her to it in this reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

Madeline and her brother, Roderick, come from a long line of Ushers cursed to live and die within the haunted walls of the House of Usher. Beloved by the house itself, Madeline can sense its feelings and for a long while trusts it to protect her. However, just like her mother before her, Madeline begins suffering fits. The house will do anything to keep her from leaving. And with her brother away at school and only sinister doctors remaining for company, Madeline must plot to escape before the house has its way with her, keeping her trapped forever. Griffin creates a thick, murky atmosphere within the walls of the House of Usher from the start, layering in chilling details as Madeline’s situation becomes ever more dire. Though only appearing intermittently, Roderick and her parents all cast long shadows, and the house is populated with compelling characters among the ghosts of Ushers past. Readers will be swept away immediately by the eerie setting, but it’s Madeline’s fighting will to survive that will keep them turning pages late into the night.

A standout take on the classic haunted-house tale replete with surprises around every shadowy corner. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-210785-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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A seriously satisfying, worthy, and well-crafted sequel.

DEATHLESS DIVIDE

From the Dread Nation series , Vol. 2

Two young black women kick zombie ass from the post–Civil War East to the late-1800s American West. 

This sequel to Dread Nation (2018) is told from the perspectives of the irascible Jane McKeene and her unlikely best friend, Katherine Deveraux, after they escape the unholy hell of Summerland, a social science experiment run by a maniacal minister through which black people were forced to protect whites from attacks by throat-chomping, undead shamblers. Alternating between Jane’s haunted life with its Shakespearean overtones and Katherine’s more devout but no less deadly existence, each chapter takes readers farther west, with hopes resting on happy endings for the duo in California. The pacing is steady throughout the first part of the story, building and exploding into a gut-wrenching plot twist halfway through. Then it’s a glorious race to the finish, with compelling moral examinations of human experimentation and killing for hire to fuel reader interest. At its core the book delves into a spectrum of black girls’ and women’s experiences, kinship, and necessary resilience. That focus never strays even as Ireland touches briefly on social tensions between Native and black characters along with passing commentary on immigration and relations between Chinese families and other communities. The imaginative integration of real-world historical players into an equally messy, gruesome chronology artfully developed by the author makes this stand out.

A seriously satisfying, worthy, and well-crafted sequel. (author’s note) (Historical fiction/horror. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-257063-5

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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The pleasure of the protagonists’ romance notwithstanding, give this one a miss. (Romance. 14-18)

FIVE FEET APART

A hospital is an unlikely place for first love, but for two teenagers with cystic fibrosis who have a history of extended stays, it proves to be a realistic yet difficult backdrop.

Stella is a high school senior who is dedicated to her CF treatments while Will, a talented artist, is home-schooled and anticipating his 18th birthday, when he will be free to make his own medical decisions. Despite rocky first impressions, Stella and Will make a deal—Will must stick to his treatment regimen, and in return, Stella will model for him while he draws her portrait. This leads to romance, but the combination of CF and Will’s infection with B. cepacia requires that he must stay several feet away from Stella, making physical touch an impossibility. Stella eventually understands why living on the edge can be freeing, and Will begins taking his treatment regimen seriously—leading to their only bit of meaningful development. The novel is written in alternating chapters, creating a few unexpected plot developments, but much of it is predictable and forgettable due to thin characterization. All characters are presumed white except for gay, Colombian CF patient Poe, whose story arc fulfills tired stereotypical tropes and who seems to function mostly as a catalyst for Stella’s growth.

The pleasure of the protagonists’ romance notwithstanding, give this one a miss. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3733-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2019

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