Readers looking for rebooted mythology should stick with Rick Riordan. (Paranormal adventure. 10 & up)

THE DEATH CATCHERS

Faced with the essential paradox of prophecy—if you see the future, can you change it?—14-year-old Lizzy Mortimer races to save the people whose deaths she foresees and prevent Doomsday in this uneven modern-day Arthurian tale.

Like all the women on her father’s side, Lizzy sees her first “death-specter” at the age of 14. Understandably upset, Lizzy finds help from her aphorism-spouting, Creole spice–loving Grandma Bizzy. When feuding enchantresses from Avalon start appearing in the twee coastal town of Crabapple, Calif., searching for the Last Descendent, Lizzy uncovers the Arthurian origins of her “Hand of Fate” and the high stakes for her amateur sleuthing. Lizzy comes off as younger than 14, even when crushing on high-school senior Drake Westfall, and high-school issues such as bullying, learning disabilities and overbearing/abusive parents receive a heavy-handed treatment. Spunky Bizzy outshines less well-developed characters, but Lizzy begins to blossom in the last few pages. The novel is written as a make-up final paper for English class, with literary techniques—transitions, setting and climax—explained in each chapter, and this framing device distracts from the central action. Despite a robbery subplot and an increasing number of rules about Lizzy’s new “gift,” foreshadowing is rampant and the end predictable.

Readers looking for rebooted mythology should stick with Rick Riordan. (Paranormal adventure. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8027-2184-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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