Unlikely to steal readers’ hearts.

ANATOMY

A LOVE STORY

In a quasi-historical version of Georgian-era Edinburgh, wealthy 17-year-old Hazel Sinnett would rather dress in her dead brother George’s clothes to attend anatomy classes than attend balls.

Fortunately, her father is on St. Helena with the Royal Navy, and her distracted mother, Lady Sinnett, is in London with her younger brother, Percy, leaving Hazel in Hawthornden Castle with just two servants for supervision. This enables Hazel to pursue her dreams of becoming a surgeon, until a sexist doctor sees through her disguise. Hazel then sets up shop at home in the dungeon and hires a young, attractive resurrection man to bring her bodies for dissection, which in turn allows her to stumble very slowly into the gothic aspect of the story: medical experiments born out of hubris and destined to end badly. The novel contains elements of mystery, horror, romance, and feminist historical fiction but unfortunately does not quite succeed at any. The science is only as accurate as the story requires. Hazel’s romance with her body-stealing companion is complicated by her long-standing betrothal to her boring cousin, Bernard, son of Lord and Lady Almont, who plays a minor villain role. Hazel treats the poor from her dungeon surgery and plans a takedown of medical patriarchy, which slows the unfolding of a mystery that is signaled in the prologue. The enjoyably creepy elements and grandstanding main villain are largely relegated to the final chapters. Characters default to White.

Unlikely to steal readers’ hearts. (Historical thriller. 12-17)

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-77415-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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