In Strauss’ debut novel, Casey Donavan must deal with all the average problems of the average, modern teenage girl: body image issues, mean girls at school, an impossible crush—and spontaneous time travel.

Within the opening paragraphs of this YA romance, the reader learns about Casey’s time-traveling woes. Casey tells the reader herself, in fact, using the same sarcastic, witty first-person voice consistently maintained throughout the book. First-person perspective done right makes a protagonist seem more accessible, and Strauss certainly does it right with Casey. Aside from her secret time-traveling troubles, Casey must also deal with all the relatable drama that often defines one’s teenage years. But if she thought that balancing her two separate lives proved difficult before, it only gets harder after her two worlds collide; she accidentally takes her crush—school heartthrob and star athlete Nate Mackenzie—back in time with her, and the whole situation leaves him feeling more than a little unnerved. All things considered, though, he adapts remarkably well to this strange set of circumstances and the unusual girl responsible for them—which is fortunate, considering the fact that Casey accidentally drags him back to the 1860s nearly every time they touch. The two of them must determine the nature of their unexpected relationship while navigating turbulent times together. Strauss successfully addresses the societal differences between then and now, providing enough detail to make the characters’ actions seem plausible without overwhelming the reader with too much historical information. The author addresses the difficult topic of time travel in a similarly balanced manner, leaving the phenomenon just vague enough to prevent too many sticky questions from popping up. The lack of detail in some portions of the novel make a few scenes seem rushed, however, and may leave readers wishing they had more to mull over. Readers who “trip” back in time with Casey will wish they could stay longer in her strangely relatable place.


Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2011

ISBN: 978-1466440968

Page Count: 292

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2012

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.


In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Pacing issues aside, a conclusion sure to satisfy fans of the trilogy.


From the Empirium Trilogy series , Vol. 3

Following Kingsbane (2019), mother and daughter queens separated across time complete each other’s stories in this trilogy closer.

Held captive by the Emperor Corien after Simon’s betrayal, Eliana defies efforts to fully restore Simon’s marque power, which would enable Corien to reunite with Rielle. Eliana’s refusal is met with psychological torture in the form of dreams that feel real and through the suffering of her loved ones. Her torment is finally interrupted by a mysterious voice in her head, which results in Eliana’s greater knowledge of the Deep and the world’s mythology. Meanwhile, 1,000 years in the past, Rielle’s storyline follows her as she, fleeing heartbreak and rejection from Audric (now regretful of his reaction, deposed, and seeking asylum and allies), is dragged deeper into darkness by Corien. Rielle’s storyline leans hard on the love-triangle element. Many of these plotlines (using primary and secondary characters’ viewpoints drawn from the large, unwieldy cast) spin in repetitive ruts so that all of the pieces land in place for a dynamic, flashy final act that unifies the storylines and themes. Race and ethnicity carry no significance in this diverse fantasy world with many secondary characters of color; Corien, Simon, and Rielle are White; Audric has brown skin. Same-sex relationships also have casual, positive representation.

Pacing issues aside, a conclusion sure to satisfy fans of the trilogy. (map, list of elements) (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5668-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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