A draw for veterans and newcomers alike.

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CONNECT THE SCOTTS

From the Dead Kid Detective Agency series , Vol. 4

October Schwartz and her five dead co-conspirators are back again to solve a double mystery tied to the unsavory history of Stickville, Ontario, in this fourth installment from Munday.

For this most recent round of resurrection, October and the dead kids plan to investigate the death of their own Tabetha Scott, a black girl who died a few years after her escape from slavery, and its possible connection to the sinister Asphodel Meadows society. The mystery only deepens when a furtive pair is seen making salt circles around children’s graves in the cemetery—circles the dead kids can’t pass through. As if her detective plate weren’t full enough, tensions skyrocket at school when $5,000 is stolen during the Band Warz competition, and the band accused of the crime asks October to clear their names. Munday’s narrative, mannered as ever with alternating narration and typeface changes, steers readers to consider systemic racism both as Tabetha slowly remembers her escape via the Underground Railroad and the discrimination she faced after arriving in Canada as well as the racist underpinnings of the frame job against the only nonwhite band at school arise. White guilt and angst over absolution—particularly October’s—is prioritized perhaps a touch too much, but a fairly elegant interweave of three mysteries that refuses to pull punches (historical or otherwise) regarding discrimination and with more than enough tantalizing intrigue and mortal danger to go around is enticing nonetheless.

A draw for veterans and newcomers alike. (Supernatural mystery. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77041-333-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: ECW Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A compelling novel that stands both on its own merit and as an addition to the wealth of Titanic literature.

MAIDEN VOYAGE

A TITANIC STORY

The tragic tale of the Titanic serves as backdrop for a series of smaller familial tragedies.

Three girls board the luxurious ship with no idea that their fates are soon to be irrevocably entwined. Lucy’s hope for this trip is for her parents to show affection for each other, though her father’s dark personality makes this unlikely. Abby, Lucy’s maid, hopes her secrets go undetected long enough for her to start a new life in America. And Isabella hopes to discover why her parents woke her in the night and made her board the Titanic—alone. An entertaining series of mishaps, misunderstandings, and revelations play out on various decks as the well-known climax approaches, this knowledge increasing the tension even further. In her debut novel, Jane liberally sprinkles historic references amid the action, including Marconi’s wireless and the women’s suffrage movement, to fold an authentic educational experience into the story. Jane shines at atmospheric descriptions of the opulence of the ship and the people themselves while also managing to bring her powers of keen observation to the third-class passengers, many of whom were immigrant families full of hope. The characters are white and of European background and straddle several economic classes.

A compelling novel that stands both on its own merit and as an addition to the wealth of Titanic literature. (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-22665-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Enjoyably campy horror set in a small town with, plainly, dark secrets aplenty yet to discover.

LOYALIST TO A FAULT

From the Dead Kid Detective Agency series , Vol. 3

Someone is systematically looting the town of Sticksville of its historical records in this third caper featuring punk teen detective October Schwartz and her five dead partners.

Break-ins at the museum and library are not only mysterious, but annoying, as they derail October’s efforts to dig into the late-18th-century history of a local family, a project that will both fulfil a school assignment and uncover how one of her ghostly young cohorts, Cyril Cooper, came to die. Moreover, October’s being stretched pretty thin. By day, she reluctantly tutors sharp-tongued frenemy Ashlie Salmons (aptly characterized as “Magneto to October Schwartz’s Professor X”) in math. By night, she sneaks out for investigations—which frequently involve clandestine entries, exploits such as digging up a corpse, and brushes with both police and violent death at the hands, or rather cutlass, of a glowing intruder in classic pirate garb—there’s hardly time to catch one’s breath, much less sleep. The intrusive narrator laces the episode with references to bands and other pop-culture icons that are collected, for less with-it readers, in a massive annotated appendix, and the book is decorated with occasional dark-lined vignettes. Alternating chapters switch typefaces and narrative form as the tale sweeps its terrified but stubborn protagonist through a series of narrowly averted threats to life and reputation alike on the way to a shocking denouement that further thickens an ongoing plotline.

Enjoyably campy horror set in a small town with, plainly, dark secrets aplenty yet to discover. (Mystery/fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77041-074-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: ECW Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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