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by Dia Reeves

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4169-8618-8
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Portero, Texas, is so terrifying that out-of-towners flee in terror. Wonderful new heroine Hanna Järvinen, however, is hard to spook. She makes friends easily: Black and Finnish, she’s comfortable standing out. Moreover, the lifesuckers and cacklers of Portero aren’t that freaky to a bipolar girl with hallucinations of her own. After all, Hanna fled here, to her estranged mother, after nearly killing her aunt in a mania-fueled attack. Chopping her way out of the guts of a giant scorpion-thing won’t faze her. Sure, it’s disconcerting that her pre-Portero delusions have solidified into genuine ghosts, and her new boyfriend fights demons for a living, but Hanna will do whatever it takes to win her mother’s love. Hanna’s manic depression is integral to her adventure, with her swings alternately harming and helping her in magical battles. Nonetheless, her story is the opposite of a Problem Novel. Neither Hanna nor readers will learn any life lessons about mental illness. This fast-paced (almost manic) page-turner about defeating evil and finding love respects its richly drawn characters too much for easy didacticism. Captivating. (Fantasy. 14 & up)