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SERVANTS OF THE STORM

A standout, atmospheric horror tale derailed by its abrupt ending.

A hurricane ushers in a flood of evil in Savannah, Georgia, and the only girl capable of seeing the truth fights to save the souls of her loved ones.

After losing her best friend, Carly, during Hurricane Josephine a year ago, Dovey lives in a haze of antipsychotic medication—until the day she spots Carly in their favorite coffee shop, very much alive. Spurred by the sighting, Dovey ditches her meds, and it isn’t long before she’s seeing things no one else can: people with black, dead eyes and an unearthly-looking girl with fox ears. She follows one such creature to a run-down bar where she meets Isaac, a handsome stranger who lights her way down the rabbit hole of horror pulsing through Savannah: Demons are real, and Carly’s soul has been made a servant of one. Racing through a landscape thick with growing evil, Dovey sets off to save both her best friend’s soul and Savannah itself. Dawson draws an immersive, eerie setting and expertly unravels Savannah’s many dark secrets. Each skin-crawling demonic encounter couples with Dovey’s fighting spirit to propel the gruesome tale into an engaging page-turner. However, the swift ending provides little closure and will leave readers scratching their heads, wanting more.

A standout, atmospheric horror tale derailed by its abrupt ending. (Horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8378-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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