A snapping, crackling, popping homage to classic horror that alludes to no optimistic resolution—all the more reason for a...

SPLINTERS

From the Prospero Chronicles series , Vol. 1

Trust is a fickle commodity in a Northern California town being slowly ingested by shape-shifting intergalactic parasites. 

When 16-year-old Ben’s childhood friend Haley is presumed dead, fatherless Ben and his mother pack up again and head to Haley’s hometown of Prospero, California, to pay condolences and find a new place to stay. Prospero’s paranormal reputation is made a shade weirder at Haley’s memorial service when Ben meets redheaded, overtly peculiar 16-year-old Mina Todd. Mina warns Ben that it’s not really his friend that’s missing but rather one of many shape-shifting alien impostors called Splinters. Mina is a “Splinter resistor,” and she asks him to help her spy on, stalk and destroy the growing Splinter population. A Splinter attack on the mismatched duo (Mina is a creature of logic and deduction; Ben is a charming kid with “heartthrob hair”) convinces Ben to join her. Written by a husband-wife duo who admit an affinity for horror films in their dedication, this dual narrative from Ben’s and Mina’s perspectives has horror’s classic backdrop of small-town creepiness. One welcome difference to the archetypal “final girl” formula of flaxen hair and virginal naïveté is that Mina is tough, possibly insane, definitely brilliant, and has already been terrorized and tormented by the body-snatching Splinters long before the story begins. 

A snapping, crackling, popping homage to classic horror that alludes to no optimistic resolution—all the more reason for a series. (Horror. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-939967-39-8

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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