Aptly introduces characters and relationships, while merely teasing the story’s fantastical qualities.

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Runes

From the A Runes Novel series , Vol. 1

A teenage girl yearns for the guy next door, even when it turns out he’s immortal, in this first installment of Walters’ (Demons, 2015, etc.) YA paranormal romance series.

Raine Cooper, nearly 17, has been best friends with Eirik Seville ever since they were kids. But just when romance develops between the two, Raine attracts the interest of dishy new neighbor Torin St. James. And there’s something special about Torin beyond his looks: he somehow scratches her Sentra without anyone seeing him near it. Raine scoffs at his claim of magic, but when cracked ribs impede her breathing, Torin’s there, and her pain inexplicably vanishes. As it happens, he’s an Immortal, and Raine’s caught the attention of a few more: Andris and sisters Maliina and Ingrid, Norwegian exchange students in Kayville, Oregon. Far from a run-of-the-mill Mortal, Raine can see the Immortals’ magical runes drawn on skin or walls. It’s clear that Maliina hates Raine (having provided her with the rib-cracking), but there may be another threat to the teen, who’s too scared to drive her car, which someone covered in runes. Even if Torin’s intent on protecting Raine, he’s not exactly forthcoming, refusing to explain precisely what Immortals are. Once Raine finally gets answers, she’ll make a decision that will change her life forever. Like any effective series opener, this novel brims with mystery. There’s a hint, for example, that Raine’s father, missing since a plane crash only months before, may have a connection to Torin and the others. The plot centers on romance, a mutual attraction (primarily Raine ogling Torin) that deepens as the two stay on each other’s minds constantly. It’s melodramatically enticing—and perhaps a little cruel—that, despite Torin’s undeniable appeal, Raine keeps Eirik around. The devotion of so much of the narrative to the love triangle unfortunately sidelines the supernatural elements. Nevertheless, a stirring final act clarifies the Immortals, not only their purpose, but their plan as well, putting more than one person in danger. There’s plenty left unresolved for future books, including Eirik, who seems to know more about Torin than he lets on.

Aptly introduces characters and relationships, while merely teasing the story’s fantastical qualities.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 245

Publisher: Firetrail Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2016

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An atmospheric and creepy page-turner.

I KILLED ZOE SPANOS

Seventeen-year-old Anna Cicconi finds herself in the middle of a mystery when she takes a summer nanny job in the swanky Hamptons enclave of Herron Hills.

Frick begins her story at the end. Well, sort of. August in the Hamptons signals the turning of the leaves and sees the grisly discovery of 19-year-old Zoe Spanos’ body. Zoe disappeared on New Year’s Eve, and Anna, who happens to strongly resemble her, has confessed to her murder. However, Martina Green, who runs the podcast Missing Zoe, doesn’t believe Anna did it and attempts to find out what really happened. Flash back to June: Hard-partying recent high school grad Anna sees her new job caring for Tom and Emilia Bellamy’s 8-year-old daughter as a fresh start. As one sun-drenched day melts into the next, Anna is drawn to Windemere, the neighboring Talbots’ looming, Gothic-style home, and to the brooding, mysterious Caden Talbot. But Anna can’t shake a feeling of déjà vu, and she’s having impossible memories that intertwine her life with Zoe’s. Frick easily juggles multiple narratives, and readers will enjoy connecting the dots of her cleverly plotted thriller inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca. Anna and Zoe are white; the supporting cast includes biracial characters Martina (Latinx/white) and Caden (black/white). Caden discusses grappling with being raised by white adoptive parents, facing racialized suspicion as Zoe’s boyfriend, and feeling marginalized at Yale.

An atmospheric and creepy page-turner. (map) (Thriller. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4970-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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