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

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 Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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A bridge between paranormals and boys' realism about thugs and delinquents, reminiscent of Neal Shusterman's Dark Fusion:...

BLOODBORN

AN OTHER NOVEL

From the Other series , Vol. 2

How many metaphors can one werewolf embody?

In the case of incipient teen wolf Brock, it's an easy two. His lycanthropy, held temporarily at bay by medication, makes his facial hair grow "so much faster than it did before," keeps him hungry although he just "had two roast beef sandwiches and an apple turnover shake" and forces him to fantasize about his ex-girlfriend, Cyn, who "drives [him] wild." In other words, he's a teenage boy. Meanwhile, parallels are continually drawn between the racism practiced against werewolves and humans; the same sheriff who tells a werewolf mother, "I should put a bullet in your brain right now and spare myself the paperwork," begins the novel by pulling Cyn over for Driving While Latina. Amid all this metaphor, there manages to be plot—Brock, previously vilely racist against Others, now has to come to terms with his new identity while fleeing the bigoted lawman. Despite Brock's infantile behavior, the werewolf pack feels responsibility for having turned him (though the original bite was an act of self-defense). Unless he can overcome his own self-loathing and guilt, Brock will wind up dead, maybe bringing Cyn with him.

 A bridge between paranormals and boys' realism about thugs and delinquents, reminiscent of Neal Shusterman's Dark Fusion: Red Rider's Hood (2005) . (Paranormal. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7387-1920-7

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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