A thoroughly enjoyable contemporary Gothic.

BAD BLOOD

Grappling with self-harm, a white teen confronts connections to a dark and distant past, family secrets, and magic.

Heather MacNair is eagerly compliant in order to win release from in-patient treatment for self-harm so she can visit her father’s family in Scotland as she does every summer and see her Scottish friends. But the treatment hasn’t been successful—she’s still compelled to cut the first chance she gets, and she has vivid nightmares of twin sisters in 1600s Edinburgh. Despite Heather’s mother’s deep reservations, Heather flies off to Scotland—where she discovers her beloved aunt has become sick and her grandmother is losing herself to dementia. The matter-of-fact, daily-life treatment of tragedies and the lively characters (from Heather’s vibrant friends to her good-natured aunt) give the story movement and prevent it from becoming a downer, even as the twins’ story, told in flashback dreams, grows ever darker. In between happy reunions and hiding her cutting, Heather discovers she isn’t the first in the MacNair family to experience the twins—and more. Soon, she’s tempted by a dangerous power she doesn’t know much about. Romantic subplots add unobtrusive texture and contribute to believable characterization. Aside from an Indian friend, most characters are white and Scottish. The setting charms, and the mystery unravels at a good clip.

A thoroughly enjoyable contemporary Gothic. (Paranormal suspense. 13 & up)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93805-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Vivid, chilling, and important.

NONE SHALL SLEEP

Two 18-year-olds with traumatic pasts become entangled in a high-stakes manhunt for a serial killer targeting teenagers.

Emma Lewis isn’t your average psychology undergrad (and not just because she has a buzz cut). Two and a half years ago, she escaped a serial killer’s clutches and then helped the authorities apprehend him. Now a student at Ohio State, she’s been recruited for her unique qualifications by an agent in the FBI’s Behavioral Science department to spend the summer interviewing juvenile offenders. Alongside trainee Travis Bell, whose late father was killed while apprehending one of their subjects, Emma reluctantly ventures into the minds of teenage killers—and must confront her own past when one of the subjects offers unexpected insight into the motives of a new killer known as the Butcher. Set in the early 1980s, narrated in present tense, and told through Emma’s perspective as well as others’ (including the Butcher’s), the tightly plotted story moves inexorably forward with shocking twists alongside clear, applicable descriptions of the cognitive behavioral strategies Emma uses to navigate her PTSD. The narrative is critical of law enforcement work, emphasizing its psychological toll, and the '80s cultural references are handled with a light touch. Emma is white while Travis is cued as biracial (Mexican American and white); although most secondary characters appear white, two key figures are people of color.

Vivid, chilling, and important. (author's note) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49783-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more