THE MIDNIGHT PALACE

Fraternal twins face a frightening destiny in this Indian melodrama set in 1932 Calcutta. Brought together by their grandmother Aryami Bose for the first time after a life spent apart, 16-year-old twins Sheere and Ben learn that a vengeful childhood friend of their father’s named Jawahal murdered their parents. The evil agent tried to finish off the entire family, but Aryami saved the infants by separating and hiding them. Jawahal swore to return when the twins were 16 and complete the job. But exactly who or what is the fiery man who seems to be able to materialize at will? And what did the twins’ parents do to make Jawahal so angry? The only clues the brother and sister have are their dead father’s detailed journal and recurring visions of a flaming train that plunges through solid walls, destroying everything it touches. The newfound siblings will have to travel to the heart of the fabled city to discover Jawahal’s real identity and the truth about their family’s troubled history. Though the villain’s motives and origins are muddy and the secondary characterizations thin in this sensationalistic gothic tale, the steamy atmosphere of Calcutta is palpable and the confrontations between the twins and their malevolent nemesis truly terrifying. Perfect for readers who value mood over all else. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-316-04473-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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