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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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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Despite its potential, though, it’s likely that the book will have limited appeal.

THE PATH OF NAMES

Goelman’s debut novel, part summer-camp tale, part ghost story and part murder mystery, is served with a sprinkling of math and a heavy dose of often-confusing Jewish orthodoxy.

Thirteen-year-old math and magic geek Dahlia reluctantly agrees to three weeks at a Jewish summer camp. There, the ghosts of two little girls visit her, and she begins to dream of David Schank, a young yeshiva student in New York in the 1930s. Soon, she realizes his spirit has possessed her; he is an ibur who needs her help to complete a task he began when alive. The novel alternates between David’s story, in which he first discovers and then fails to hide from the Illuminated Ones the 72nd name of God, and Dahlia’s, as she attempts to figure out what the ghosts and the spirit want and why the creepy caretaker won’t let any children into the camp’s overgrown hedge maze. A substantial cast of characters, multiple plot twists in both narrative storylines, some subplots that go nowhere, a golem, gematria or Jewish numerology, the cabala and more make this novel a challenging read. It’s certainly a refreshing change from the usual focus in middle-grade Jewish fiction on the Holocaust, immigrants and bar/bat mitzvahs, and the inclusion of a girl protagonist who loves math is also welcome.

Despite its potential, though, it’s likely that the book will have limited appeal. (Paranormal mystery. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-47430-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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