While overall appeal may be limited, it will hook patient readers by the palpable sense of foreboding established early on,...

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THE STRANGE CASE OF DOCTOR JEKYLL & MADEMOISELLE ODILE

A reworking of the classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde imagines his beastly transformation is achieved at the hands of a desperate young woman in this slowly paced thriller that's steeped in historical detail.

Odile and her younger brother, Gréluchon, flee to Paris after their parents are murdered. Arriving in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War, they struggle to survive on their own. Odile is terrified for her brother, who suffers from a debilitating eye infection that has been made worse from malnourishment and living in the damp of the catacombs. Descended from a family of witches, she searches her mother’s spell books for something that might fortify her brother. At the same time, she becomes indebted to oddball Dr. Henry Jekyll, setting events into motion from which Odile cannot escape. Situating this well-known story against the backdrop of the Prussian invasion of Paris and its short governance by the Commune is conceptually interesting, but the pacing lags somewhat. In keeping with the style of the era, Odile’s narrative voice is formal, and teens that are not established historical-fiction fans may find it difficult to identify with her.

While overall appeal may be limited, it will hook patient readers by the palpable sense of foreboding established early on, and they will enjoy the gradual build of suspense in this gritty and layered novel.  (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-684-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.

CODE NAME VERITY

Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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