After fighting the evil Blouts in The Otherworldlies (2008), Fern must now face a deadlier menace: rooming with the school's...

Twelve-year-old Fern is an Otherworldly, a vampire—though why a non–blood-drinking, non-immortal, naturally born, teleporting telekinetic is called a “vampire” is left as an exercise to the reader.

After fighting the evil Blouts in The Otherworldlies (2008), Fern must now face a deadlier menace: rooming with the school's mean girls on a class trip to Washington, D.C. Fern's only distraction from the bullies tormenting her is her vision of a boy in a cage. The boy, she discovers, is Miles Zapo, a kidnapped Otherworldly just Fern's age. Fern suspects Miles, like her, is one of the Unusuals, destined to do something or other. (It's not clear what’s so Unusual, and it doesn't really matter; as long as there's a prophecy it's important, right?) The kidnapper is the dastardly Silver Tooth, also known as Haryle (“Hair-uh-Lee”) Laffar, brother of evil Vlad from Fern's previous adventure, and possessed of even more mysterious and evil secrets. The Smithsonian, the Hope diamond, moon rocks and mohawked, scaled, monstrous birds all play a part in Haryle's villainous plans for Miles and Fern. A firmly middle-school adventure (despite packaging attempting to capitalize on the paranormal craze among older teens) composed of cartoon villains, unconvincing heroes and a muddled, nonsensical plot.

Pub Date: June 28, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-199443-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011


In this sketchy, incoherent, near-future tale, a child named Rain and the lion she has raised are stolen from an inland village for some never-explained Sacrifice by “Tekkies” inhabiting The Island, a former mountaintop surrounded by risen seas. Aside from vague references to “the Wild,” “Drylands” and air-conditioned “chill chambers,” the author does little to set up either the scene or the back story, nor does she ever reveal why Rain or the lion are considered so significant. Instead she focuses almost entirely on Rain’s unhappiness and confusion through disconnected encounters with Island residents, and then she engineers a highly contrived escape for the girl and lion as their former prison is totally destroyed for unknown reasons. The deadly effects of global warming certainly make a cogent theme, but this effort to take it up seems to have been, at best, phoned in by a veteran South African author who usually offers much more careful and sensitive work (Song of Be, 1993, etc.). Goodness knows, there's a raft of other eco-disaster tales out there for readers so inclined. (Science fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84780-114-2

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010


From the Book of Tormod series , Vol. 2

This sequel to A Templar's Apprentice (2010) takes Tormod in circular journeys around Scotland without particularly advancing the plot. The truth o’ yon Tormod’s powers canno’ be denied—or understood very well, given the brogue-laden prose, which lacks the accuracy for true flavor but is still thick enough to interfere with readability. Tormod is on the run with his new friend, the redheaded and equally magically gifted Aine. They skip from adventure to adventure, uncontrolled psychic abilities troubling them while they seek a Knight Templar with the gift of healing. Tormod's health suffers as his visions become worse. His travels, from discovering a village whose residents have been massacred by soldiers to a brief interaction with Robert the Bruce, are soon only interruptions; primarily his days are occupied by delirium, visions and out-of-control magical temper tantrums. At least his fever dreams are revealing the King of France's wicked plot against the Templars, but it won't do him much good as he wanders through the Highlands. A discombobulated traveling tale, best summed up in Tormod's own stream of consciousness: "Torquil. The Abbot. The Templar. Aine. Bertrand. The bairn. Cornelius. Visions. Dreams. Nightmares." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-05675-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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