Fans of the series will welcome a new story arc stocked with familiar characters, settings, and adventures.

DRAGONWATCH

From the Dragonwatch series , Vol. 1

After narrowly averting a demon apocalypse in the previous series, Fablehaven sibs Seth and Kendra face a new threat to the world.

No good deed goes unpunished, it seems, and so cautious Kendra and her irrepressibly reckless little brother find themselves challenged by wily, scenery-chewing Celebrant, king of the very dragons who were so instrumental in quelling the demons. The dragons are now hot to break out of their own long confinement, and a hidden talisman is all that can restore the mysteriously weakened magic barriers that have kept them in check. Time for quests and tests! “The unworthy will not survive. Death is likely. Off you go,” a cheery guardian bids. With help from Calvin, a gigantic (i.e., thumb-sized) nipsie, and other motley allies, the young heroes survive hazards ranging from slavering dire bears to the clinically depressed Somber Knight to find the talisman and sneak it past a draconic blockade…only to learn that dragonkind is in general revolt and other sanctuaries have already fallen. In a broad hint of where Mull is going with this, Kendra gets an offer of help at the outset—from a demon. Stay tuned. If it feels formulaic, that’s because it is, but formula has its place.

Fans of the series will welcome a new story arc stocked with familiar characters, settings, and adventures. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62972-256-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise.

WHERE SHE FELL

A teenager battles social anxiety disorder and giant bugs in a subterranean world.

When two bad friends to whom she’s been clinging trick her into venturing into the ominously named Drowners Swamp, Eliza falls into a sinkhole that leads into a seemingly endless cave system. Being an avid fan of caves and geology, Eliza is as enthralled as she is terrified—a mix of emotions that remains unaltered as she encounters a small community of likewise trapped people surviving on a diet of outsized spiders and cave insects. Weeks later she is captured (briefly, thanks to a conveniently timed spider attack) by bioluminescent humanoids. All the while, despite having been in therapy for years, she continually denigrates herself for panic attacks and freezing up around others. Her emotional reactions take up so much of the narrative, in fact, that for all its lurid, occasionally gruesome turns, it’s hard to tell whether character or action drives the story more. In the event, Eliza is surprised to find reserves of inner strength—and a chance at personal transformation—through her ordeal. The first-person narration is punctuated with excerpts and sketches from Eliza’s journal. Except for one character with brown skin, the nonglowing cast defaults to white. Warring themes and elements give this outing a distinct feel of multiple stories yoked together by violence.

Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise. (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-23007-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A well-knit debut generously stocked with chills, thrills, and chancy exploits.

MONSTROUS DEVICES

A young British teenager’s ordinary world takes a sudden spin to the dark side with the arrival of an antique toy robot that turns out to conceal a terrible, and terrifying, power.

Hardly has Alex unpacked the robot sent by his grandfather than he cuts himself on a sharp edge so that a little blood seeps into its workings. Cue the weirdness, starting with a homework assignment he doesn’t remember finishing and a bully who inexplicably beats a sudden retreat. It quickly escalates into a headlong flight with his grandad and a running fight with a squad of varied but uniformly scary automatons fueled themselves by blood. What’s up? Alex’s robot, it turns out, was crafted to hide a tablet inscribed with the secret name of God that Rabbi Loew used to animate his legendary golem…and nefarious parties are out to revive the clay monster for—well, nothing good. Confused, terror-stricken, and inarticulate throughout, Alex comes off as a pale character next to his creepy adversaries and, in particular, his dapper, glib, secretive, martially adroit, scene-stealing grandfather. Still, as events move along apace, he proves surprisingly resourceful. Love tucks in plenty of icky bits, along with cinematic set pieces and hairbreadth escapes, and he strews enough tantalizing hints about his protagonist’s murky past to excite interest in sequels. The human cast presents white.

A well-knit debut generously stocked with chills, thrills, and chancy exploits. (Horror/suspense/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47858-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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