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CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN

From the Samantha Knox series , Vol. 1

A fast pace, compelling supernatural mystery, and intriguing historical setting add up to broad appeal.

Set in the Roaring ’20s, this is the first entry in a series starring puzzle-solving aspiring archaeologist Samantha Knox.

Sam, whose father was killed during the Great War, has remained in her rural Illinois town to work in an antiquarian bookshop owned by the father of her childhood friends, siblings Joana and Bennett Steeling. One day, a package from Ireland with a mysterious book containing a coded letter is delivered. Before Sam can properly examine it, two Irishmen try to steal it, in the process setting fire to the shop. Sam, wisecracking sidekick Joana, and love interest Bennett learn that a centuries-old club is trying to enact an ancient curse to call forth Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of war and death. Traveling by train and steamship, the trio make their way to Dublin, encountering an array of additional characters along the way. With each chapter ending in a cliffhanger, the plot unfolds quickly. Classic elements include hidden clues, narrow escapes, a magical ritual object, and a fearsome mythical creature. Sam is an appealing heroine: smart, well-read, gutsy, and introspective. While solving the mystery (and discerning friend from foe), Sam comes to terms with the lingering effects of her grief, a plot element that provides unexpected emotional depth. However, repetitive bickering among the main characters proves tedious. All characters appear White.

A fast pace, compelling supernatural mystery, and intriguing historical setting add up to broad appeal. (Adventure. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06398-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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EVERYTHING WE NEVER SAID

A dark and romantic thriller for those who love sexy suspense.

Ella Graham begins her senior year at North Davis High in a waking nightmare.

She’s trying to get by without best friend Hayley Miller, who died in a car accident last spring. Ella is besieged by not only grief but also guilt—she was the one driving drunk when their car hit a boulder above a rushing river, though she remembers nothing. Placed in a support group run by school psychologist Mr. Wilkens, Ella must confront fellow attendee Sawyer Hawkins—Hayley’s boyfriend, whom she’s sure blames her—as well as her growing feelings for him. As their relationship blooms, Ella’s guilt intensifies. When she helps Hayley’s mother with the painful task of cleaning out her late daughter’s bedroom, Ella discovers Hayley’s diary, and from its contents, she learns much more about her friend than she ever imagined. Harlow’s debut is full of angst, and readers will be enticed to tear through the novel, which contains surprising twists and quickens in pace toward the end. Ella’s grief and survivor’s guilt are palpable, permeating every page. Ella and Sawyer’s relationship is both fraught and steamy, and romance fans will enjoy the intrigue of their unfolding relationship; their alternating points of view provide glimpses into both their psyches. Ella’s mom is Filipina (her dad’s ethnicity is not mentioned); most other major characters read white.

A dark and romantic thriller for those who love sexy suspense. (resources) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 28, 2024

ISBN: 9780593855720

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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