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

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This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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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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