A solidly creepy start to a promising series, with a wildly frustrating cliffhanger.



From the Nightstruck series , Vol. 1

The streets of Philadelphia are filled with terror once night falls.

Becket and her father live together in Center City, Philadelphia, her mother having left a few months ago. They are making do as best they can, but her father's job as police commissioner keeps him away from home an awful lot, especially with what’s going on now. People are disappearing, but there are also tales of strange sights and creepy creatures. Soon a citywide curfew keeps people locked inside at night while the nightmarish beings known as the Nightstruck wander the streets and wreak havoc. Becket is cooped up with her dreamy next-door neighbor while she worries about her father and best friend, who went off into the night and returned distressingly changed. Black neatly establishes a creepy sense of dread, but at times the scope is too claustrophobic. Becket and her father keep hearing about absurd, crazy things, but readers don’t get to see them as much as they might like. Becket is a typical teen-lit gal (presumptively white, pretty without knowing it, smart, introverted), but the circumstances and her headstrong reactions to them bring readers in. Black pulls off some horrific set pieces, and there's a great hook for a larger mystery, but, as this is a series opener, the story's narrative and emotional arcs just plain stop.

A solidly creepy start to a promising series, with a wildly frustrating cliffhanger. (Thriller. 14-17)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8004-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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Fans hoping for a novelization equal to the caliber of the original web series will be sorely disappointed.


A present-day web series, based on the 1872 Gothic vampire novella, gets a prose adaptation.

Laura, newly arrived at an Austrian university, investigates the disappearance of her roommate, which is covered up by school administration. Her suspicions rise when she’s quickly given a new roommate: the snarky, mysterious Carmilla. Laura’s initial relationship with Danny, a female teaching assistant, is superseded by an attraction to Carmilla even after she discovers that Carmilla is a vampire. Overall, the translation from web series to novel is less than smooth. The writing lacks sophistication, and humor which plays well onscreen falls flat on the page. Remarkably, while the web series has narrative reason for taking place solely in Laura’s dorm room (it’s here she films her video blogs chronicling the investigation), the novel largely follows suit without the same excuse. Though Laura’s identity as a lesbian is well-portrayed, the genderqueer representation of one of her friends is abysmal: LaFontaine’s pronouns are introduced halfway through the book and the whole matter is handled awkwardly, especially in connection to their friend’s difficulty with their identity and name change. What’s more, although they don’t identify as male or female, no one raises questions when LaFontaine is one of five “girls” to be kidnapped—not even LaFontaine. All characters seem to be white.

Fans hoping for a novelization equal to the caliber of the original web series will be sorely disappointed. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0130-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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The unbalanced plot stretches too far, over too long.


From the White Rabbit Chronicles series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Alice in Zombieland (2012), Ali Bell and her friends, fellow hunters of invisible spirit zombies, confront internal threats and endless relationship drama.

Just when Ali’s getting into a comfortable rhythm with her new zombie-fighting life, everything falls apart. Romantically, things are great with her boyfriend, Cole, right up until two out-of-state zombie slayers arrive. One is Cole’s gorgeous ex, and the other, a handsome “he-slut,” shares visions with Ali when he meets her eyes—just like the visions that kick-started Ali and Cole’s romance. Before Ali can figure things out, Cole has already dumped her, leading to pages of misery for everyone involved. Meanwhile, Ali is bitten during a zombie hunt and has a strange reaction, even after being given the antidote. In the mirror, she sees a sinister zombie version of herself that wants to take over, forcing Ali to struggle against her zombie counterpart’s hungers. Additional storylines feature relationship struggles for Ali’s best friends and a spy among the slayers feeding information back to the evil corporation that wishes to use zombies. The slow-paced story is plagued by tension-stealing tropes—the paranormal-romance-sequel formula in which the hero abruptly dumps the heroine and the zombie-movie cliché in which a victim conceals an infection. However, Ali’s female friendships are endearing.

The unbalanced plot stretches too far, over too long. (Horror/paranormal romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-373-21077-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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