Twining history, speculation, and atmospheric writing, the author delivers a good old-fashioned ghost story.

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THE HOUSE ON STONE'S THROW ISLAND

Poblocki returns with another eerie vision of lingering spirits (The Book of Bad Things, 2014, etc.).

Josie and Eli, both about to start seventh grade, meet each other for the first time on a dock in Maine, boarding the ferry that will take them and their families to far-off Stone’s Throw Island, where their siblings are to be married. As the only teenagers among the pre-wedding guests, it’s natural that they decide to explore the island, first separately, then together. Caught up in the wedding plans, the adults don’t notice anything amiss—they’re focused on the approaching weather; a storm is brewing that threatens the festivities. But Josie and Eli notice strange cries from a crypt that’s submerged at high tide, a girl who appears and then disappears from Josie’s room, and the strange way that the island’s caretakers are behaving. At first disturbing, then frightening, Poblocki’s tale plays on stories about the German U-boats that plied the coastal waters during World War II. 1942 diary entries written by a local girl flesh out the history and add to the suspense.

Twining history, speculation, and atmospheric writing, the author delivers a good old-fashioned ghost story. (Suspense. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-64556-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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