The girls’ mismatched partnership could be a pleasure, if only Evaline could stake the excruciating dialect as easily as she...

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THE SPIRITGLASS CHARADE

From the Stoker & Holmes series , Vol. 2

A second steampunk adventure of the great detective and the vampire slayer, proper young ladies (The Clockwork Scarab, 2013).

Evaline Stoker (sister of Bram) and Mina Holmes (niece of Sherlock) are a crabby crime-solving duo in an 1889 London where electricity is illegal and steam-powered technology is the order of the day. The great Irene Adler has another royal commission for them: to assist Miss Willa Ashton, who is being taking advantage of by spiritualists. Mina applies her powers of observation to the task, while Evaline, who wants nothing more than an enemy she can punch, is relieved to find vampires are involved. The girls must solve the mystery with only the oddest clues—“Crickets. Pickpockets. UnDead”—while preserving Miss Ashton’s life and sanity. Both girls have romances that seem to prioritize schoolyard sniping over affection. Mina primarily has feelings for clever Inspector Grayling, while Evaline flirts with Pix, an underworld figure whose cockney thieves’ cant, like that of all the lower classes here, is inaccurate, distracting and unpronounceable. An oversupply of characters leaves some so underused as to be clutter. Dylan the time traveler, for example, seems to exist only to provide a third point in Mina’s love triangle while uttering 21st-century pop-culture references.

The girls’ mismatched partnership could be a pleasure, if only Evaline could stake the excruciating dialect as easily as she skewers vampires . (Steampunk/mystery. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-10714

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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