Some decent frights will keep the pages turning.

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THE MURMURINGS

Sophie worries that she may wind up in a mental institution like her sister Nell when she starts hearing the same ghostly whispering that doomed Nell.

Was Nell crazy? Is Sophie? Or do both sisters have an ability to hear things from beyond the grave? Worse, does their ability put them in danger? Sophie’s new love interest, Evan, wants to help find out what happened to Nell when she died after escaping from the Oakside Behavioral Institute. Sophie and Evan investigate Nell’s death, meeting Adam, the former Oakside worker who helped Nell escape. Ignoring, of course, both Adam’s and Evan’s advice to stay away from Oakside, Sophie goes there anyway and becomes trapped when an unethical doctor convinces her alcoholic mother to commit her. It seems the doctor has his own reasons for getting “seers” under his control. Now Sophie must find a way to escape from Oakside on her own. For a short time, West flirts with the possibility that Sophie’s “murmurings” might be psychological rather than paranormal but drops that mystery in favor of pure suspense. The plotting is effective, including secret prowling around the institute at night, surreptitious meetings with a sympathetic ally, fun with mirrors and heart-thumping encounters. A steady pace helps to compensate for an overlong story.

Some decent frights will keep the pages turning. (Paranormal suspense. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4179-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling.

LEGENDBORN

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 1

Sixteen-year-old Black whiz kid Bree Matthews battles grief and demonic forces on her college campus.

After her mother dies in an accident, Bree begins a residential program for enterprising teens at her mother’s alma mater and, soon after her arrival, witnesses a magical attack that triggers hidden memories about the evening her mother was killed. Haunted by the fact that their final conversation was an argument, Bree begins a redemptive quest to uncover the connection between her mother’s death and the university’s secret society, the Order of the Round Table, joining their ranks as an initiate and unwittingly stumbling into a centuries-old supernatural war. While competing in the tournament that determines entry to the society, Bree discovers the truth about her heretofore unknown magical abilities, unwinding a complex history that showcases the horrors chattel slavery in the American South perpetuates on the descendants of all involved. Push through clunky expositions and choppy transitions that interrupt the cohesion of the text to discover solid character development that brings forward contemporary, thoughtful engagement with the representation, or lack thereof, of race in canonical Arthurian lore and mythologies. Representation of actualized, strong queer characters is organic, not forced, and so are textual conversations around emotional wellness and intergenerational trauma. Well-crafted allusions to established legends and other literary works are delightful easter eggs.

Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling. (author's note) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4160-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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