It’s all just too much, and the varied narrative formats just compound the chaos.

THE DEAD HOUSE

A collection of diary entries, video footage, medical transcripts, and emails is examined to determine the mental health of Kaitlyn Johnson, who allegedly caused the deaths of several teens in a boarding school fire.

Kaitlyn is a complicated character, claiming she harbors two souls in her body. By day, the body is inhabited by sweet, shy Carly, while destructive Kaitlyn controls the body at night. The “sisters” have somehow developed a friendship and communicate through notes to each other, keeping their two identities secret from all but their immediate family. When their parents die in a car accident, Kaitlyn/Carly are committed to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Integration therapy upsets Kaitlyn, who feels it is designed to eliminate her personality entirely. But the story really takes a turn for the fantastical when Carly somehow gets involved in black magic, leading to her personality’s disappearance. Kaitlyn’s efforts to locate Carly are hindered by the menacing voice Kaitlyn hears and her nightmares of a haunted mansion. Soon, fellow boarding school students start dying violently, Kaitlyn falls in love with the wrong guy, and finally the novel reaches its fiery (though largely unsatisfying) end. This melodrama is communicated in a patchwork of formats that switches every few pages, a narrative contrivance whose “found” feel backfires.

It’s all just too much, and the varied narrative formats just compound the chaos. (Horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-29868-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A dark and enthralling journey.

VESPERTINE

In a land threatened by violent spirits, a girl with a haunted past unleashes an ancient entity from a holy relic and strikes a deal for the power to save her home.

Ever since the Sorrow, the dead no longer pass on peacefully. Without the intervention of the Clerisy of the Gray Lady, they roam as destructive spirits. Artemisia of Naimes, gifted with the ability to see the spirits, never intends to leave her convent, where the walls protect her from possession and (Lady forbid) social interaction. Her plans crumble when a group of possessed soldiers attack her home. Reluctantly, Artemisia unseals a legendary relic, binding herself to a revenant, an undead being with immense power. Untrained in controlling spirits and desperate to protect her home, she bargains with the revenant to help her. Amid escalating danger and an unfolding mystery, Rogerson unveils a grim and intriguing world with a rich, plot-relevant history inspired by late-medieval France. In addition to the White protagonist, the narration describes several secondary characters with brown skin; the revenant is identified as “it,” while human characters in this world adhere to a gender binary. Artemisia experiences dynamic character growth as her understandings of trauma, history, and morality shift. Although she remains socially avoidant, she learns to value friendship. A satisfying but open-ended resolution demands for the story to continue.

A dark and enthralling journey. (glossary) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7711-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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