Despite interpersonal storylines stuck in ruts and an underwhelming ending, the creepy house moments land well.

CREEP

Mysterious letters torment the new inhabitants of a house.

The gorgeous, stately Langsom house is among the finest residences of Glennon Heights. After the Langsoms move out—mysteriously—the Donahues move in from out of state. Olivia Danvers becomes fast friends with the new family’s youngest daughter, Janie, and gets drawn into the Donahue family dramas. These dramas include something unspoken about Janie’s brother, Ben (whom Olivia rapidly develops a crush on), that prompted the move, and Mr. and Mrs. Donahue’s volatile relationship. By far, the most interesting oddity at the Donahue house are creepy letters from the self-proclaimed Sentry, warning the family of secrets inside the house and the gruesome fate that awaits them if they stay. While the teens investigate possible suspects and uncover the history of the house (including hidden passages and a secret room with peepholes), Mr. Donahue jumps on the knowledge that the Langsoms also received some letters as a nondisclosure that justifies a lawsuit against multiple parties, including the real estate agent and the Langsoms—a move that doesn’t make his new-to-town kids popular. After a very slow-burning plot, when the pieces come together they come hard and fast, overly explaining the mystery and leading to an abrupt climax. All characters seem to default to white.

Despite interpersonal storylines stuck in ruts and an underwhelming ending, the creepy house moments land well. (Horror/thriller. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-09508-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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