A chilling debut—like the Seeker, a tale that doesn’t let you go.

HIDE AND SEEKER

Justin and his friends play their last game of hide-and-seek at their friend Zee’s not-so-welcome–home party.

Zee had gone missing one week after Justin’s mother passed away just one year ago, and the party is celebrating his return. But the emaciated Zee is acting strangely, mumbling rhymes about a Seeker that will take them all. Shortly after the party, one by one, Justin’s other friends begin to disappear. It doesn’t take long for the remaining members of the crew to figure out that Zee’s strange behavior may be connected to the disappearances. Justin, Nia, and Lyric set out on a trail of clues and possible suspects, hoping to find their missing peers. No sooner do the details of the mystery begin to come to light than Justin, the last of the group, is unwillingly transported into the realm of Nowhere. In this parallel universe, the Seeker keeps children hostage, feeding off of their fears. This dark nail-biter, set in a small Tennessee town and featuring a largely African American cast (Lyric is the only white kid), weaves a creepy spin on a childhood game that quickly slips into a Stephen King–esque tale of horror. Can the children trapped in Nowhere gather as allies to evade the Seeker and get home?

A chilling debut—like the Seeker, a tale that doesn’t let you go. (Horror. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-58362-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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A didactic blueprint disguised as a supernatural treasure map.

GHOST GIRL

A girl who delights in the macabre harnesses her inherited supernatural ability.

It’s not just her stark white hair that makes 11-year-old Zee Puckett stand out in nowheresville Knobb’s Ferry. She’s a storyteller, a Mary Shelley fangirl, and is being raised by her 21-year-old high school dropout sister while their father looks for work upstate (cue the wayward glances from the affluent demography). Don’t pity her, because Zee doesn’t acquiesce to snobbery, bullying, or pretty much anything that confronts her. But a dog with bleeding eyes in a cemetery gives her pause—momentarily—because the beast is just the tip of the wicked that has this way come to town. Time to get some help from ghosts. The creepy supernatural current continues throughout, intermingled with very real forays into bullying (Zee won’t stand for it or for the notion that good girls need to act nice), body positivity, socio-economic status and social hierarchy, and mental health. This debut from a promising writer involves a navigation of caste systems, self-esteem, and villainy that exists in an interesting world with intriguing characters, but they receive a flat, two-dimensional treatment that ultimately makes the book feel like one is learning a ho-hum lesson in morality. Zee is presumably White (as is her rich-girl nemesis–cum-comrade, Nellie). Her best friend, Elijah, is cued as Black. Warning: this just might spur frenzied requests for Frankenstein.

A didactic blueprint disguised as a supernatural treasure map. (Supernatural. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304460-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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A yarn as full of magic and intrigue as any fairy tale or pirate song.

GLOOM TOWN

Two friends team up to save their town from an ancient supernatural evil in this suspenseful middle-grade novel.

In his latest work, Smith (The Owls Have Come To Take Us Away, 2019, etc.) weaves together an eerie adventure narrative as nail-biting and mysterious as Roald Dahl’s The Witches. Set in a downtrodden seaside town appropriately named Gloom, the tale follows a single mother and her son. Desperate to help in the endless struggle to make ends meet, Rory, a young dark-skinned biracial boy who takes after his father instead of his white mother, regards a job notice advertising a valet position at the opulent Foxglove Manor as a godsend. He’s so eager he overlooks the townwide speculation that the manor contains some malevolent spirit. Before long, Rory can no longer ignore the sinister butler whose face looks inhuman, the mysterious dinner guests who aren’t served food yet leave behind a pile of bones with the marrow sucked out, and a human heart found buried in the back garden. When Lord Foxglove, his enigmatic employer, discovers Rory snooping, he is forced to flee for his life. Together with best friend Izzy, a white girl who lives next door, Rory sets out to unravel the mystery of the manor and save Gloom from whatever lurks inside. Anchoring this well-paced story is a solid cast of characters whose central relationships feel authentic and grounded.

A yarn as full of magic and intrigue as any fairy tale or pirate song. (Suspense. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-84161-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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