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

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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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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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