A bit less humor than past collections, but fans will enjoy the grue. (Short stories/horror. 11-16)

EXTREMITIES

TALES OF DEATH, MURDER, AND REVENGE

Prolific novelist and short story writer Lubar offers up a baker’s dozen of stories too gruesome for his six (so far) Weenies collections.

A sadistic gym teacher pushes a student with asthma until she’s sent to the hospital, and the girl’s friends exact revenge by forcing the teacher to run the track with a bag over her head. Two young teens are caught in a late-night convenience-store robbery. When the masked gunmen take the boys hostage, one of the boy uses a startling, literally bloody power to turn the tables. A young couple tries to stow away on a cruise ship for a free vacation but find they have boarded Pyre Cruise Lines rather than Pace Cruise Lines...and you can guess what happens next. When a teen lets a nerdy (and annoying) classmate drown in a local quarry instead of helping, he finds every molecule of water out for revenge. In an author’s note, Lubar states the stories herein are “not…for children”: They are “too dark, too heartless, or...too evil, for [his] young readers”—which, of course, will make them all the more attractive to his Weenie audience. Sophisticated readers or those well-versed in Lubar’s usual twists will see several endings coming, and a few entries show their age technologically (an element also discussed in the author’s note).

A bit less humor than past collections, but fans will enjoy the grue. (Short stories/horror. 11-16)

Pub Date: July 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3460-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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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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For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales.

COLD HEARTED

A TALE OF THE WICKED STEPMOTHER

From the Villains series

How did Cinderella’s stepmother come to be so wicked?

She may have been self-focused, but at least she wasn’t always so cruel. Lady Tremaine, mother of two spoiled daughters, is a lonely widow hoping for a bit of happiness. Unfortunately, when Sir Richard appears at her friend’s house party, she’s swept off her feet and fails to heed the frantic warnings of her dedicated, elderly lady’s maid. Had she ever bothered to read the book of fairy tales her late husband purchased years before, she might have recognized the perils of assuming the role of stepmother. Entranced by Sir Richard, she agrees to a hasty marriage and a move to the Many Kingdoms, where he reverts to his true, domineering nature and she and her daughters become virtual prisoners in his home. Although the Odd Sisters—clever, manipulative witches—try to intervene on her behalf, it seems her fate is already written; she becomes as cruel and demented as the story described. However, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and her sister, Nanny, have plans to rescue Lady Tremaine’s daughters as they develop much-needed, rehabilitative insights into the family’s dynamics. Mostly told from the Lady’s shallow, self-centered perspective, this is an entertaining retelling of the Disney “Cinderella” story from a different viewpoint, with references to the rest of the series woven throughout. Characters follow a White default.

For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02528-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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