Readers with strong stomachs and a taste for melodramatic narratives bedizened with words like “tenebrous” and “mephitic”...

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THE LUNATIC'S CURSE

More luridly gothic deeds and schemes, set near the locales of the author’s Eyeball Collector (2009), Bone Magician (2008) and Black Book of Secrets (2007).

The prosperous town of Oppum Oppidulum, the deep and cold adjacent Lake Beluarum and the Asylum for the Peculiar and Bizarre that sits on an island in said lake all hold horrifying secrets. Young Rex discovers this when his father is confined to the Asylum after suddenly going mad and eating his own hand—to the open glee of Rex’s sinister new stepmother Acantha Grammaticus. Higgins trots Rex himself out to the misty island, where he is befriended by a deaf, young freak-show contortionist, nearly falls under the spell of a hypnotic con artist out to harvest the diamonds scattered thickly on the lake’s bottom and uncovers a number of hideous secrets on the way to a climax that brings just deserts for some and tragic twists of fate for others. Strewing her narrative with dark hints, obscure clues, assorted lunatics and, in particular, both macabre cuisine and a panoply of noxious or tantalizingly evocative odors, the author contrives a highly atmospheric experience.

Readers with strong stomachs and a taste for melodramatic narratives bedizened with words like “tenebrous” and “mephitic” will devour this yarn with relish. So to speak. (Gothic fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-56682-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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I AM NUMBER FOUR

From the Lorien Legacies series , Vol. 1

If it were a Golden Age comic, this tale of ridiculous science, space dogs and humanoid aliens with flashlights in their hands might not be bad. Alas... Number Four is a fugitive from the planet Lorien, which is sloppily described as both "hundreds of lightyears away" and "billions of miles away." Along with eight other children and their caretakers, Number Four escaped from the Mogadorian invasion of Lorien ten years ago. Now the nine children are scattered on Earth, hiding. Luckily and fairly nonsensically, the planet's Elders cast a charm on them so they could only be killed in numerical order, but children one through three are dead, and Number Four is next. Too bad he's finally gained a friend and a girlfriend and doesn't want to run. At least his newly developing alien powers means there will be screen-ready combat and explosions. Perhaps most idiotic, "author" Pittacus Lore is a character in this fiction—but the first-person narrator is someone else entirely. Maybe this is a natural extension of lightly hidden actual author James Frey's drive to fictionalize his life, but literature it ain't. (Science fiction. 11-13)

     

 

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-196955-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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NIGHT OF THE SOUL STEALER

From the Last Apprentice series , Vol. 3

The third and weakest episode in Delaney’s Last Apprentice series takes narrator Tom Ward, his secretive master Old Gregory and canny young witch Alice to winter quarters on bleak Anglezarke Moor where, thanks to massive contrivances, they survive encounters with three blood-sucking witches, a boggart or two and a necromancer out to raise one of the old gods. Along with offering supernatural threats that are both fewer and less dangerous than in previous volumes, Delaney injects his plot with artificial peril by repeatedly having his protagonists inexplicably lie or refuse to impart important information to one another. He then sets up the climax with a cruel deception that is not only ludicrously complicated, but out of character for the gruff but fundamentally decent Gregory, and closes with Tom’s newly widowed mother showing him chests of magic secrets that he’s forbidden to open for several months. Arrasmith’s dark chapter-head illustrations and appended “notebook” pages add atmosphere but not vitality to this limp, overlong outing. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-076624-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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