THE CELLAR

A zombie teenage romance loosely associated with Romeo and Juliet, written under a pseudonym by a romance-writer and her teenage daughter. (Their previous attempt, 2009's The Well, had Hamlet connections.) The tall, gorgeous stranger who moves in next door manages to bring 16-year-old Heather out of a depression following her father’s death in a car accident she caused. Though all the girls are swooning over mysterious Adrien St. Germaine, he zeroes in on Heather, volunteering to play Romeo opposite her in the school’s production. Only Heather’s 17-year-old sister Meredith is suspicious of him and his decrepit “mother” Marie. Are her visions of worms and beetles behind Adrien’s ever-present sunglasses and glimpses of coffins and corpses in the St. Germaine cellar real, or are they just symptoms of her deteriorating eyesight and grief over her father? Is she also imagining that Sam, Heather’s old boyfriend, likes her the way she likes him? The horror tale is told in alternating voices: Meredith’s teenage commentary and ruminations and a third-person narration filtering the thoughts of Heather (as she falls under Adrien’s spell) and Adrien (as his determination to possess Heather forever triggers a zombie war, starting in his creepy cellar and culminating on the set of Romeo and Juliet). The disgusting living dead meet suburban high-school students in this B-movie of a book. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-23253-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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