A spine-tingling collection that’s dead on for young horror buffs.


The Tales From Beyond the Brain (2019) team returns with 13 more scary stories.

In short, punchy stories, readers face dangerous insects and animals, time- and reality-breaking impossibilities, dangerous imposters, and more. Throughout the variety of the scares, body horror appears again and again—considering the edge-of-puberty audience, it’s a timely theme that’s likely to resonate. Although many characters face unpleasant (or at least ambiguous) ends, truly detailed gross-out bits come off as offbeat and cartoonish (such as a primordial ooze and a transformation prompted by pumpkin pie). Stylized black-and-white illustrations range from spot to full-page. They use line, light, and shadow effectively, highlighting frights in detail while also leaving plenty for readers’ imaginations to fill in. While some stories have a touch of modern technology in the horror, old-fashioned analog tech that modern kids won’t be familiar with repeatedly features as a sinister unknown. In the final story, the point of view shifts to first-person, leading to eventual fourth-wall breakage (that continues on into the acknowledgments, inviting readers to keep the scares alive in the real world). While physical and racial descriptors are largely absent, character names indicate Asian, South Asian, and Latinx characters; illustrations also depict characters as Asian and black in stories without textual indication; and one story based in Hebrew golem lore includes anti-Semitic bullying that confronts a rabbi’s son.

A spine-tingling collection that’s dead on for young horror buffs. (Horror. 8-13)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2458-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun


From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart.


From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 2

Thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan and his crew of monster-fighting besties are fresh off their victorious battle against the evil Blarg, but there’s no rest for the weary in the middle of a Monster Apocalypse.

First, Joe’s Pizza has become the local monster hangout. And second, the zombies seem to be disappearing. Thankfully, the white boy, his not-so-secret Latina love, June Del Toro, his African-American, science-nerd best friend, Quint, and pre-apocalypse bully–turned-ally Dirk, a large white boy who loves to garden, befriend a man-monster who might have the answers to everything. Equal parts humor, adventure, and warmth, the book offers fans of the series and new readers alike an entirely agreeable outing. Jack’s witty narration and Holgate’s pitch-perfect illustrations make for a terrific read that’s particularly well suited for middle-grade boys who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. There are plenty of foul-smelling, brain-sucking monsters and gizmos and gadgets to delight, but at its core, this is a story about friendship. Orphaned at birth and raised by a foster family he describes as jerks, Jack has always longed for a family of his own. Now that he has one, the only thing scarier than the monsters is the thought of losing them.

An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart. (Horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-01662-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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