Yet another orphaned teen uncovers his magical heritage, in the debut of a cheerfully derivative horror series. At 14, newly orphaned Devon March is sent to Amanda Crandall, mistress of Ravenscliff mansion, in a creepy seaside town called Misery Point, where thunder and lightning conveniently punctuate any portentous statement. Devon comes with a lot of questions about his new home, but also a few secrets, such as his intermittent abilities of telekinesis and demon-wrestling. The mysterious Voice that guides Devon hints that answers reside at Ravenscliff, but Mrs. Crandall firmly squashes any inquiries into the past. Still, he can’t avoid the dark rumors that swirl around Ravenscliff, and especially its former master, the diabolical Jackson Muir. Why are demons again stalking the streets of Misery Point? Why does Devon feel compelled to seek out resentful ex-convict Rolfe Montaigne? What secrets lurk in the boarded-up East Wing? Could Jackson Muir’s malevolent influence extend beyond the grave? And what does it all have to do with Devon, and the sorcerous Order of the Nightwing? The pseudonymous Huntington tosses in every imaginable gothic cliché: gnarled retainers, secret passageways, possessed children, weeping portraits, sinister clowns, hidden tomes, forbidden romances, even maggot-infested corpses, complemented by an incessant barrage of pop-culture references. The overstuffed plot careens along in a recklessly urgent present tense, lurid purple metaphors teetering on the edge of self-parody. More of a carnival thrill ride than a novel; still, Huntington is so obviously having fun that it’s easy to just sit back and enjoy the trip. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-001425-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002


A fresh, generous, wide-ranging compendium of frights.

Spooky stories covering multiple subgenres, plus some added attractions.

Few horrific tropes or creepy conventions are overlooked in Duplessie’s debut. The stories are arranged into six sections: “Short Frights for Dark Nights,” “Anatomical Anomalies,” “Five Minutes in the Future,” “Be Careful Who You Trust,” “The Dark Web,” and “The Unearthly, the Ghoulish, and the Downright Monstrous.” Some of the best entries are grounded in familiar setups, but Duplessie is careful to avoid repetition. The stories’ relatively short lengths and the crisp, direct writing style make this volume inviting for even reluctant readers, but it doesn’t shy away from the truly terrifying and grotesque. That said, the grisliest events are often described with poetic elegance rather than gratuitous violence: “His face collapsed like an empty paper bag.” The stories frequently conclude with the suggestion of frights to come rather than graphic depictions. One ends with an overly curious girl getting sealed up in a brick wall. Another foreshadows the murderous power of a cellphone. Highlights include the eerie “The Reaping,” in which the prick of a rose’s thorn triggers a spate of bloodlust, and “Chamber of Horrors,” which features a murderous iron maiden. Each story ends with a bonus in the form of a QR code and instructions to “scan the code for a scare”—if readers dare. Short, eerie poems are peppered throughout; there are even a handful of riddles. Most characters read white; names cue some ethnic diversity.

A fresh, generous, wide-ranging compendium of frights. (Horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780063266483

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023


Death isn’t an easy subject to write about, but Shusterman handles it deftly, as he explores what happens to two children who are “lost” on their way “towards the light.” Nick and Allie have never met, but both are involved in a fatal car accident. They find they are neither living nor spirit; they now exist in Everlost. Learning to cope with their new state of being, they arrive in New York City, where a band of lost children have taken up residence in the Twin Towers, which still stand tall in Everlost. Led by Mary, the Queen of Snot, threatened by the Great McGill and his pirate band, these children have come to accept that this is where they belong and will always be. But Nick and Allie know there must be something—somewhere—else, and they are determined to find out what and where that is. A quirky sense of humor pervades, which helps to lighten what would otherwise be a disturbing concept. But the overall message (that there is existence after life and purpose to that existence and a destination when one is finally ready for it) is one of comfort. For anyone who has lost a friend or loved one at an early age, this is a good read. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-689-87237-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2006

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