Offers quality moments despite some weak links in the narrative chain.

THIS COVEN WON'T BREAK

From the These Witches Don't Burn series , Vol. 2

All witches are now in danger in this magic-laced action/mystery sequel.

Hannah, from These Witches Don’t Burn (2019), is starting her senior year of high school, but that’s not what’s foremost on her mind. Instead, she’s concerned with the Witch Hunters who are attacking more frequently with a refined version of their “cure” that robs witches of their magic. After exposure to an earlier version of the drug, Hannah’s having trouble accessing her Elemental magic and wants to be part of the collective covens’ retaliation. She’s also committed to seeing her dad’s murderers brought to justice. When the witch Elders ask Hannah to recruit some key players to their counterattack plans, she’s all in even though the first recruit recently tried to kill her. Internally, Hannah is still dealing with grief and trauma as well. Thankfully, she can talk openly about her troubles with Gemma, her now-in-the-know nonmagical best friend. She also finds comfort with her girlfriend, Morgan, a Blood Witch whose abilities give Hannah’s stoppered powers some relief. Despite sweet, heartfelt romance and some emotionally genuine scenes for Hannah, the sensational roller coaster of a plot leaves these moments feeling disjointed rather than a natural part of the overall story. Apart from the white main characters, there are a few secondary characters of color; a trans secondary character; and a married, pregnant lesbian couple who are role models for Hannah.

Offers quality moments despite some weak links in the narrative chain. (Paranormal. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-451-48035-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences.

MIDNIGHT SUN

From the Twilight series , Vol. 5

A long-awaited Twilight (2005) companion novel told from vampire Edward’s point of view.

Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire (and eternal 17-year-old), finds his world turned upside down when new girl Bella Swan’s addictive scent drives a primal hunger, launching the classic story of vampire-meets-girl, vampire-wants-to-eat-girl, vampire-falls-in-love-with-girl. Edward’s broody inner monologue allows readers to follow every beat of his falling in love. The glacial pace and already familiar plot points mean that instead of surprise twists, characterization reigns. Meyer doesn’t shy away from making Edward far less sympathetic than Bella’s view of him (and his mind reading confirms that Bella’s view of him isn’t universal). Bella benefits from being seen without the curtain of self-deprecation from the original book, as Edward analyzes her every action for clues to her personality. The deeper, richer characterization of the leads comes at the expense of the secondary cast, who (with a few exceptions) alternate primarily along gender lines, between dimwitted buffoons and jealous mean girls. Once the vampiric threat from James’ storyline kicks off, vampire maneuvering and strategizing show off the interplay of the Cullens’ powers in a fresh way. After the action of the climax starts in earnest, though, it leans more into summary and monologue to get to the well-known ending. Aside from the Quileutes and the occasional background character, the cast defaults to White.

A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences. (Paranormal romance. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-70704-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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