A ghostly tale with a historical twist.

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THE FORGOTTEN GIRL

Two friends stumble upon an abandoned cemetery in the woods behind their houses.

Best friends Iris and Daniel, both African American, are having a hard year. At school, Iris is struggling to get the recognition she craves as captain of the step team, and at home, her 4-year-old sister steals their parents’ attention. Daniel’s father is recently deceased, and he feels the need to be extra careful so his mom and grandmother don’t experience loss again. Brown’s portrayals of Iris’ angst and Daniel’s grief are deftly written and accessible for readers. Despite their challenges, the friends know they can count on each other, so when Iris begs Daniel to come outside in the middle of the night to experience the first snow, he ignores his grandmother’s superstitious warning about the spirits of the snow who prey on children and joins her. After a snowball fight in the woods, Iris makes a snow angel and realizes she is actually lying on top of a grave. The headstone reveals that the grave’s occupant is a girl named Avery, who was 12, just like them. After that first night, Avery haunts Iris, compelling Iris to return to her and right the wrongs that left her in limbo. The book struggles with pacing, but the historical information about school desegregation, segregated cemeteries, and the Great Migration are welcome, unique additions.

A ghostly tale with a historical twist. (Paranormal adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31724-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along.

HENRY HUNTER AND THE CURSED PIRATES

From the Henry Hunter series , Vol. 2

In a second brush with the supernatural (following Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov, 2016), brainy young sleuth Henry and his faithful chronicler, Adolphus, are kidnapped by undead pirates. Yo ho ho!

News that a friend’s parents have vanished on a cruise in the Caribbean prompts the dapper kid detective (looking ever natty in suit, tie, and fedora in Tankard’s lavishly detailed drawings) to take a quick sabbatical from St. Grimbold’s School for Extraordinary Boys and fly to Barbados to investigate. Hardly has he begun than an ectoplasmic tentacle grabs him and his sidekick, Dolf—depositing both aboard the spectral ship of Blackbeard himself. The legendary pirate is still around courtesy of a curse laid on a certain bit of booty and, since ghosts can’t hold shovels, bent on collecting hapless tourists to dig up buried treasure. Matthews enthusiastically chucks bits of pirate lore, along with the odd skeleton, map, and treasure chest, into the enterprise, and for additional atmosphere, the illustrator strews margins and corners with bugs, fish, stormy seas, and nautical jetsam. Aside from a “Rastafarian” guide, the entire cast, living and otherwise, is evidently white (and, with one minor exception, male). By the end, the curse is broken, the pirates gone, the captives rescued, and Henry himself mysteriously vanished in the wake of an encounter with merpeople. Stay tuned.

There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along. (Fantasy/mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-51071-039-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A mystery/thriller that’s equal parts heartfelt and shocking.

TEEN KILLERS CLUB

An accused murderer is thrust into an assassin training program.

Seventeen-year-old Signal Deere is serving hard time after a hazy night with her former best friend, Rose, which ended with Rose’s body in her lap, an emotional trial, and the media moniker the “Girl from Hell.” After her caseworker, Dave, assures Signal there’s no way she’ll get a successful appeal, he offers her an alternative: being shipped off to a mysterious camp and enrolled in a top-secret government training program unofficially known as the Teen Killers Club. There, Signal and other adolescent Class A felons (the most dangerous kind) undergo various drills—among them, dismembering fake corpses and dissolving flesh in acid—in preparation for eventually being used as assassins against government targets. The teens have been injected with a device remotely controlled by their trainers that will kill them if they attempt to escape the camp or otherwise disobey orders. As Signal nurses an attraction to sensitive tattooed Javier and fights her feelings for handsome sociopath Erik, she begins to piece together what really happened that night with Rose. Sparks crafts a page-turner with a disturbingly unusual premise, snappy dialogue, and characters that go deeper than their heinous crimes. Signal and Erik are assumed White; love interest Javier is cued as Latinx, and there is some diversity in the supporting cast.

A mystery/thriller that’s equal parts heartfelt and shocking. (Thriller. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-229-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Ghost-story fans won’t be disappointed in the end, if they can slog that far through all the low-wattage civil-service...

THE MINISTRY OF GHOSTS

The threat of imminent shutdown prompts a small government agency to hire a pair of young independent contractors to capture a ghost in this British import.

On the way to a pleasantly tidy ending, Shearer delivers some comical chills and twists, but he takes too long to set them up. Driven by a blustering government cost-cutter’s ultimatum, the four (or five, counting the cat) remaining members of the antique Ministry of Ghosts—originally founded in 1792 to determine whether spirits are bunkum or real—decide a fresh approach is needed. The “help wanted” card they place in the dusty window of their ramshackle building draws two students from the local school: strong-minded Thruppence Coddley, daughter of a fishmonger, and timorous but game classmate Tim Legge, both white. The author salts his tale liberally with subtle clues and oddly quaint characters, and he eventually arrives at some startling (for unobservant readers, at least) revelations. But aside from brief mentions in a prologue, the two young people don’t even show up to get the ghost hunting under way until seven wordy introductory chapters have trundled slowly by, filled with eye-glazing exchanges and daily routines in an office where nothing much has changed in decades.

Ghost-story fans won’t be disappointed in the end, if they can slog that far through all the low-wattage civil-service satire. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0473-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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