Deliciously shivery.



“The endless forest was as dark as the back of a wolf’s throat.” So begins this terrifying tale of bravery, magic, and lies.

Within this infinite forest sits a village. Kestrel, 12, is the most hated person in this village, but the stalwart young hunter is the community’s only hope against the deadly grabbers, grotesque creatures that appear as their victims’ worst fears before devouring them. No one survives a grabber attack, not even Kestrel’s grandmother, the most fearsome hunter in the history of the forest, who trained Kestrel to push aside her fear and “deal with it later.” Kestrel dreams of escape; there must be a better life beyond the woods. However, her mother keeps Kestrel trapped with dark magic. She has the baby teeth of every villager, and when Kestrel disobeys, she punishes her daughter by magical proxy, grievously injuring someone else, but she’ll release Kestrel if she kills her grandmother’s grabber. Armed with a sharpened spoon (a brilliantly subverted symbol of submissive female domesticity) and accompanied by Pippit, a talking weasel, Kestrel braves the carnivorous Marrow Orchard, where body parts grow on bloody trees; makes a deal with the omniscient Briny Witch (who is male); and struggles with guilt over her role in her grandmother’s death. Kestrel’s earthy determination grounds readers as they navigate the myriad spooky details, braving even what makes her “guts shrivel.” The book adheres to the white default.

Deliciously shivery. (Fantasy. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2923-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun


From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart.


From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 2

Thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan and his crew of monster-fighting besties are fresh off their victorious battle against the evil Blarg, but there’s no rest for the weary in the middle of a Monster Apocalypse.

First, Joe’s Pizza has become the local monster hangout. And second, the zombies seem to be disappearing. Thankfully, the white boy, his not-so-secret Latina love, June Del Toro, his African-American, science-nerd best friend, Quint, and pre-apocalypse bully–turned-ally Dirk, a large white boy who loves to garden, befriend a man-monster who might have the answers to everything. Equal parts humor, adventure, and warmth, the book offers fans of the series and new readers alike an entirely agreeable outing. Jack’s witty narration and Holgate’s pitch-perfect illustrations make for a terrific read that’s particularly well suited for middle-grade boys who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. There are plenty of foul-smelling, brain-sucking monsters and gizmos and gadgets to delight, but at its core, this is a story about friendship. Orphaned at birth and raised by a foster family he describes as jerks, Jack has always longed for a family of his own. Now that he has one, the only thing scarier than the monsters is the thought of losing them.

An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart. (Horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-01662-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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