Slightly educational, mostly fun.

THE PERFECT PLACE TO DIE

A twist on disturbing historical events.

Sisters Zuretta and Ruby want to escape their abusive Utahn family, but Ruby manages to leave home first. When her letters abruptly stop coming, Zuretta heads east to Chicago to discover why. The teenager is immediately beset by grifters, but she has plenty of pluck: When police refuse to help her locate Ruby, she finds work as a maid in the hotel where her sister was last employed. That building, the Castle, is an ominous warren of hidden rooms and false doors populated by sinister employees—and the charming Dr. Henry Holmes. Holmes, a real mass murderer active during the Chicago World’s Fair, published writings after his conviction, and excerpts open each chapter. Zuretta’s involvement in the case is fictionalized, but the story’s true origins add suspense and excitement. Zuretta’s dreams of her sister as a moldering, ambulatory corpse don’t quite match the realistic events of the rest of the novel, and certain characters and events (the Pinkerton heir who helps her on her first day in Chicago, a hotel worker whose appearances stop once she’s less useful for the protagonist) are more convenient than is satisfying, but this novel will appeal to readers excited about an account of gruesome historical events steered by an intrepid young woman. The setting seems to include almost exclusively White people, including the main characters.

Slightly educational, mostly fun. (author's note) (Historical thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-911-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

An overall entertaining read.

THE PRETENDERS

From the Similars series , Vol. 2

In this sequel to The Similars (2018), tensions rise as the villains reveal a ploy to exact revenge on the Ten and their families and ultimately take over the world.

When Emma Chance returns to her elite boarding school, Darkwood Academy, for her senior year, things are different: Her best friend, Ollie Ward, is back while Levi Gravelle, Ollie’s clone and Emma’s love interest, has been imprisoned on Castor Island. More importantly, Emma is coming to terms with the contents of a letter from Gravelle which states that she is Eden, a Similar created to replace the original Emma, who died as a child. To complicate matters further, other clones—who are not Similars—infiltrate Darkwood, and Emma and her friends uncover a plot that threatens not only the lives of everyone they care about, but also the world as they know it. Hanover wastes no time delving right into the action; readers unfamiliar with the first book may get lost. This duology closer is largely predictable and often filled with loopholes, but the fast-paced narrative and one unexpected plot twist make for an engaging ride. As before, most of the primary characters read as white, and supporting characters remain underdeveloped. Despite its flaws and often implausible turns of events, the novel calls attention to larger questions of identity, selfhood, and what it means to be human.

An overall entertaining read. (Dystopia. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6513-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more