Set in 1978 in Newfoundland, Canada, this middle-grade novel weaves together a family history and a curse. 

Twelve-year-old Ruth grew up in Toronto when she wasn’t traveling with her botanist father, but she is spending this summer in Newfoundland with her aunt Doll—a relative she doesn’t know—while her father and new stepmother travel. Sleeping uneasily on her first night, Ruth awakens to see a girl holding a candle get into the bed opposite her own. She assumes it is Ruby, her cousin whom she has never met, who will also be staying at Aunt Doll’s for the summer. But in the morning, the girl is gone, and Doll tells her that Ruby is coming later that day. This is the intriguing beginning of an engrossing tale at whose core is a feud between two families, the Barretts and the Finns, who sailed to Newfoundland from Ireland in 1832—and a curse that affects the female blonde, blue-eyed twins of each generation of Finns. When Ruth and Ruby meet, they are struck by their identical physical features, including blonde hair and blue eyes, and when Ruth begins having strange visions, the girls delve deeper into a generations-old secret. Cotter’s complex and engrossing story is enhanced by its superbly presented isolated Newfoundland setting and a satisfying dose of ghosts. The theme—the power of words—creates both a fascinating conclusion and food for thought. The book assumes a white default.

Delicious. (Supernatural adventure. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-91889-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along.


From the Henry Hunter series , Vol. 2

In a second brush with the supernatural (following Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov, 2016), brainy young sleuth Henry and his faithful chronicler, Adolphus, are kidnapped by undead pirates. Yo ho ho!

News that a friend’s parents have vanished on a cruise in the Caribbean prompts the dapper kid detective (looking ever natty in suit, tie, and fedora in Tankard’s lavishly detailed drawings) to take a quick sabbatical from St. Grimbold’s School for Extraordinary Boys and fly to Barbados to investigate. Hardly has he begun than an ectoplasmic tentacle grabs him and his sidekick, Dolf—depositing both aboard the spectral ship of Blackbeard himself. The legendary pirate is still around courtesy of a curse laid on a certain bit of booty and, since ghosts can’t hold shovels, bent on collecting hapless tourists to dig up buried treasure. Matthews enthusiastically chucks bits of pirate lore, along with the odd skeleton, map, and treasure chest, into the enterprise, and for additional atmosphere, the illustrator strews margins and corners with bugs, fish, stormy seas, and nautical jetsam. Aside from a “Rastafarian” guide, the entire cast, living and otherwise, is evidently white (and, with one minor exception, male). By the end, the curse is broken, the pirates gone, the captives rescued, and Henry himself mysteriously vanished in the wake of an encounter with merpeople. Stay tuned.

There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along. (Fantasy/mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-51071-039-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Worth a look for fans of Spiderwick and the ever-living Goosebumps.


From the Tales From Lovecraft Middle School series , Vol. 2

Ancient squirming evil from dark dimensions beyond threatens to take over the world—starting with the student-council presidency.

In series opener Professor Gargoyle (2012), Lovecraft Middle School seventh-grader Robert Arthur and his former nemesis, Glenn Torkells, saved their new school from the eldritch demon inhabiting Professor Goyle’s body. Now, crazed physicist Crawford Tillinghast, currently trapped in another dimension, is attempting to take over Lovecraft Middle School by gaining control of the student council with his minions, two snake-haired demons disguised as popular girls Sarah and Sylvia Price. Can Robert and Glenn defeat the dimension-hopping monsters with the help of ghost girl Karina and slightly creepy librarian Ms. Lavinia, or will the cthulhu hordes overrun us all? Gilman’s second entry picks up where the first left off and adeptly sets up the third, to be released two months hence. It’s another slightly creepy, often funny read that doesn’t require much of its audience (least of all knowledge of the works of H.P. Lovecraft). Occasional action-packed and monster-filled black-and-white illustrations and another motion-activated lenticular cover add eye-catching zest. Though it can stand alone, much is set up in the first book.

Worth a look for fans of Spiderwick and the ever-living Goosebumps. (Humorous horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59474-593-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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