GHOST MESSAGES

After 13-year-old Irish seer Ailish O'Connor’s father brings home a thuggish drinking acquaintance, Rufus Dalton, the evil man beats her “da” senseless and steals their only thing of value, a gold statuette. Ailish follows Dalton and inadvertently stows away on the Great Eastern, the largest ship of its day, just as it heads out on its 1865 voyage to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable. She overhears Dalton blackmailing an Irish crewmember, Paddy Whelan, with a newspaper photograph of him at a Fenian freedom fighters’ meeting. Ailish is befriended by a young riveter’s helper, Davy Jones. Frequent heavy-handed clues to his true nature abound, but Ailish, in spite of her second sight, is surprisingly oblivious, as she dresses as a boy, tries to hide her presence from the crew, searches for her stolen treasure and attempts to protect Paddy. While Ailish’s character is well-developed, the rest of the crew are stock characters; the good are very, very good, and the bad are terrifically evil. Details of the cable-laying effort provide a believable backdrop to Ailish’s adventure, even if the predictable plot and characters undermine the effort. While Davy adds a never-scary paranormal twist, Ailish’s multiple problems remain the primary focus of this only mildly exciting tale. (Paranormal historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55050-458-3

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Coteau Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Laden with retro charm and sly humor, this won’t suit every reader, but fans of fast-paced, far-fetched action will lap it...

LANTERN SAM AND THE BLUE STREAK BANDITS

A talking cat with a penchant for problem-solving and self-reflection, a clever kidnapping-cum–jewel heist, a couple of kids and a friendly train conductor all collide in an atmospheric late-1930s adventure with old-time cinematic appeal.

Mystery author Beil returns to his Ohio roots with a main character, 10-year-old Henry Shipley from Ashtabula, and a climactic scene on board the Blue Streak roller coaster at Conneaut Lake Park. The bulk of the action, however, takes place on a train. Henry, an observant, artistic child, narrates while the eponymous Lantern Sam, a male calico, inserts chapters detailing his own earlier life and frequent narrow escapes. Both boy and cat are drawn into the mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance of Ellie Strasbourg, a wealthy young girl. The author balances his parallel narratives relatively well, though Sam’s story takes some unexpected directions, as when he details the danger posed by his brief flirtation with an older, female cat named Marmalade. The epilogue, written by an elderly Henry, makes sense of the occasionally arch, adult-sounding tone, but some readers may struggle to keep track of the multiple subplots and several sets of secondary (stock) characters.

Laden with retro charm and sly humor, this won’t suit every reader, but fans of fast-paced, far-fetched action will lap it up as enthusiastically as Sam swallows his favorite brand of sardines . (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-75317-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Other recent illustrated versions outsail this superficial recasting.

MOBY DICK

From the 10-Minute Classics series

Shadowy pictures of larger-than-life figures cast atmospheric gloom over this summary version of the classic.

Edwards leaves out most of the gory whaling bits—as well as Ahab’s talismanic doubloon and so many other details that what’s left is more a precis of the main plot points. It’s speckled with vague allusions (“Despite ominous warnings, Queequeg and I stayed committed to the Pequod”) and capped with a one-line climax: “Claiming more than just the harpoon boats, Moby Dick dashed the Pequod and claimed all her crew. All except one….” In Horsepool’s stylized paintings, semiabstract views reveal icy seas in which looming clouds, icebergs, and the whale look much alike. These alternate with scenes of monumental but misshapen human figures (Queequeg and Ahab both sport tiny pointed heads atop humongous bodies) that are often seen from behind and generally in dim lighting. Ishmael appears only at the end, looking more like he’s standing in knee-deep water than clinging to the coffin. The cast’s diverse origins draw a narrative mention, but aside from Queequeg and one crew member in a group scene, everyone in the art appears to be white.

Other recent illustrated versions outsail this superficial recasting. (Picture book. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4867-1200-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flowerpot Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more