Gut-wrenching on various levels.

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SHANTALLOW

A boy and a girl stand in a dark clearing, gravely injured, and near death.

This dream belongs to 17-year-old Misha Antall, but when he meets Tanvi Mahajan—the girl from his nightmares—in real life, Misha can’t resist getting close to her. The pair soon stir up a heated romance, but Misha’s harrowing past, marked by an abusive father, colors his actions in the relationship, while the traumatic loss of an aunt draws out a vulnerable strand in Tanvi, driving her further into his arms. Their poisoned relationship follows an ill-fated trajectory, aided by Misha’s jealousy, obsession, and own abusive behavior toward Tanvi. Then the nightmares become a reality: Tanvi falls victim to a kidnapping plot thanks to her family’s wealth, and Misha gets swept up as well. An evil, vindictive entity that threatens to engulf everything in its path awaits them at the kidnappers’ hideout. From the opening sentence, the author piles on the dread and scares as she deconstructs Misha and Tanvi’s mostly toxic relationship with a sharp taste for emotional complexity. Employing rich language, she depicts adolescent turmoil via ominous imagery but never loses sight of the hopeful possibility of change. Black-and-white photographs add an unnerving sense of visual horror during key suspenseful moments. Tanvi is of Indian descent, one major character is black, and most others are white (and are refreshingly named as such).

Gut-wrenching on various levels. (Psychological horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77086-552-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: DCB

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

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Chilling, poignant, haunting, and, unfortunately, all too timely.

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THE GRACE YEAR

A rebellious 16-year-old is sent to an isolated island for her grace year, when she must release her seductive, poisonous magic into the wild before taking her proper place as a wife and child bearer.

In gaslit Garner County, women and girls are said to harbor diabolical magic capable of manipulating men. Dreaming, among other things, is forbidden, and before girls embark on their grace year, they hope to receive a veil, which promises marriage. Otherwise, it’s life in a labor house—or worse. Strong, outdoorsy, skeptical Tierney James doesn’t want to be married, but a shocking twist leaves her with a veil—and a dangerous enemy in the vindictive Kiersten. Thirty-three girls with red ribbons symbolizing sin woven into their braids set out to survive the island, but it won’t be easy. Poachers, who trade in the body parts of grace-year girls, surround the camp, and paranoia, superstition, and mistrust rule. Not everyone will make it home alive. The bones of Liggett’s (The Unfortunates, 2018, etc.) tale of female repression are familiar ones, but her immersive storytelling effortlessly weaves horror elements with a harrowing and surprising survival story. Profound moments lie in small details, and readers’ hearts will race and break right along with the brave, capable Tierney’s. The biggest changes often begin with the smallest rebellions, and the emotional conclusion will resonate. All characters are assumed white.

Chilling, poignant, haunting, and, unfortunately, all too timely. (Dystopian. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-14544-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide To Murder series , Vol. 1

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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