The mishmash of popular tropes (steampunk! vampires! Sherlock Holmes!) will bring readers in, but it’s the friendship...

THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB

From the Stoker & Holmes series , Vol. 1

A vampire slayer and a great detective (-in-training) fight baddies in a steam-powered London.

Alvermina “Mina” Holmes is thrilled when she’s invited to a secret rendezvous at the British Museum; she’ll finally prove herself a fitting successor to her famous uncle Sherlock. The mystery she finds is every bit as fascinating as she could have hoped: bloody murders, a secret society, even a time traveler. Along with pesky vampire slayer Evaline Stoker, Mina investigates the mysterious Society of Sekhmet. Mina deduces, while Evaline (ever ladylike in her split skirts) does violence to their enemies. Between attacking villains and questioning her own prowess, elegant Evaline develops warm feelings for a common thief named Pix. Meanwhile, Mina is troubled by her attraction to the almost-as-clever-as-she-is Inspector Grayling. Some elements fall flat: The time traveler’s Nikes and “egg mick-muffins” clash with the tone, and Pix’s over-the-top guttersnipe dialect—“No’ all of ’em ’re true”—is pure distraction. Nonetheless, the budding friendship between the bickering girls brings heart into this gadget-laden mystery. While Pix and Inspector Grayling will clearly provide romantic interest in forthcoming volumes, it’s the snarky bromance between Stoker and Holmes that stands out.

The mishmash of popular tropes (steampunk! vampires! Sherlock Holmes!) will bring readers in, but it’s the friendship between the two girls that will keep them . (Steampunk/mystery. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1070-7

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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