A thrilling alternative history that sparkles with wit and charm.

MY CALAMITY JANE

A posse of werewolf hunters disguised as a traveling troupe of sharpshooters roam the Old West in search of a particularly vicious werewolf known as the Alpha.

Under the watchful eyes of the paternal Wild Bill Hickok, protagonists Calamity Jane, Frank Butler, and Annie Oakley track the Alpha, all while navigating budding romances and family quarrels. While each teen is dedicated to the collective, they are each driven by their own motivations. Frank, for example, hopes to one day give up werewolf hunting and be a full-time entertainer. Annie—who must convince the group to hire her as a sharpshooter in the show—flees a family that wants to force her into marriage. All Jane wants is to settle down on a plot of land somewhere, far away from prying eyes. As the plot unfolds, readers learn each of the characters’ origin stories—including their deepest secrets. The book’s thrilling plot is driven by a brilliantly clever, collective narratorial voice that frequently intercedes with historical tidbits, witty asides, and political statements ranging from critiquing America’s lack of gun control laws to the shameful genocide and violent displacement of Native Americans. While most of the characters are white, the story does include two Lakota characters and a protagonist who comes out as queer. Full of twists, turns, and laugh-out-loud humor, this tongue-in-cheek feminist alternative history is impossible to put down.

A thrilling alternative history that sparkles with wit and charm. (further reading) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-265281-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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A lush and darkly twisted modern fairy tale.

HOUSE OF HOLLOW

Ten years ago, the three Hollow sisters disappeared from an Edinburgh street while on holiday. A month later, they came back.

When Iris, Vivi, and Grey returned, they couldn’t remember anything of their ordeal. Their dark hair turned white, and their blue eyes became black. They sported identical hook-shaped scars on their necks. Despite their altered appearances, their parents were elated to return home to London with them. However, their father soon began to believe that they were not really his daughters, a conviction that led to his suicide. Since then, the story of now 17-year-old Iris and her older sisters has been like catnip to online sleuths, and their ethereal beauty and uncanny ability to bend people to their wills and intoxicate them with dangerous desire add to their mystique. When Grey, now an internationally famous fashion designer and model, goes missing, Iris and Vivi, with help from Grey’s Korean British boyfriend, Tyler, set out to find her and the truth behind their disappearance. Their search takes on a new urgency when they find a decomposing body blooming with white flowers in Grey’s apartment and they are pursued by a murderous man wearing a horned bull’s skull mask. Iris’ smart and assured narration easily carries a fast-paced story entwining themes of grief and loss with elements of folklore and some very inventive body horror. The pervasive feeling of dread builds to a shocking twist.

A lush and darkly twisted modern fairy tale. (Horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11034-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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