THE GHOSTS OF ASHBURY HIGH

Moriarty has done it again. Fourth in the loose Brookfield-Ashbury saga (Feeling Sorry for Celia, 2001; The Year of Secret Assignments, 2004; The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, 2006), this Australian import uses multiple formats (journals, exam essays, letters, transcripts) to relate the events of senior year at Ashbury, when two scholarship students with dark pasts and astounding talents shake up the lives of characters who will be familiar to fans. Quirky, comic and self-referential—exam questions about Gothic novels highlight the novel’s own gothic elements; weather then plays a crucial role in a climactic, possibly supernatural finale—this romp explores serious issues (especially class and privilege). No one is exactly who you think, and figuring out just what is going on is much of the fun. The author effortlessly employs multiple voices and narrative devices for maximum effect, and each member of the ensemble comes across loud and clear. Despite the heavy underpinnings, the focus is the redemptive power of friendship. Another winner, sure to please old fans and create new ones. (historical note) (Epistolary dramedy. YA)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-06972-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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A richly satisfying, Poirot-like ending for Johnson’s inspired and inspiring teen sleuth.

THE HAND ON THE WALL

From the Truly Devious series , Vol. 3

The final, riveting chapter of the Truly Devious murder series.

The initial incident in the series involved the 1936 abduction of newspaper tycoon Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter; the present volume probes several unsavory events that transpired afterward, including Ellingham’s own death in 1938, in a sailing accident on Lake Champlain, and the recent immolation of University of Vermont history professor and Ellingham mystery enthusiast Dr. Irene Fenton. Fenton was introduced to protagonist and contemporary “Ellingham Sherlock” Stevie Bell in The Vanishing Stair (2019). As Stevie gets closer to making good on her resolution to solve the Ellingham case’s past and present riddles, Johnson makes the most of the exclusive institution’s remote, wooded mountain locale, provocatively setting the climax of Stevie’s investigations during the throes of a cataclysmic blizzard. Stevie and her motley crew of misfit high school geniuses are stranded à la Agatha Christie with members of the Ellingham Academy administration, who may have a stake in the revelations of several secrets linking the Ellingham kidnappings with present-day murders. Throughout this intricately woven, fast-paced whodunit, Johnson demonstrates how proximity to wealth and power can mold and bend one’s behavior, whether with good or—here largely—devious intent. The brainy secondary characters' quirky talents and interests complement Stevie's sleuthing skills; while mostly white, they include diversity in socio-economic background, mental health challenges, physical disability, and sexual orientation.

A richly satisfying, Poirot-like ending for Johnson’s inspired and inspiring teen sleuth. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-233811-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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CITY OF BONES

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS, BOOK ONE

This urban-fantasy series opener spices its fight against evil with sexual tension. Fifteen-year-old geek hipster Clary thought she was just a normal kid, but normal kids don’t see invisible people, and normal kids’ mothers don’t suddenly disappear, seemingly captured by horrific monsters. But like many fantasy heroines, Clary isn’t normal, and she’s got all the secret parentage, dramatic revelations and amazing magic powers to prove it. Clary is a Shadowhunter, brought up as a mundane but born to fight demons. She and her mundane friend Simon fall in with a trio of Shadowhunter teens, and are soon embroiled in a quest to understand Clary’s past—and incidentally save the world. Rich descriptions occasionally devolve into purple prose, but the story’s sensual flavor comes from the wealth of detail: demons with facial piercings, diners serving locusts and honey, pretty gay warlocks and cameo appearances from other urban fantasies’ characters. Complicated romantic triangles keep the excitement high even when the dramatic revelations tend toward the ridiculous. Lush and fun. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: March 27, 2007

ISBN: 1-4169-1428-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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