A delightfully spooky page-turner for middle-grade readers.

THE WITCHES OF WILLOW COVE

From the The Witches of Willow Cove series , Vol. 1

Award-winning travel writer Roberts spins an engrossing tale of magic, mystery, and friendship in his debut middle-grade novel.

In the quaint Massachusetts town of Willow Cove, 13-year-old Abby Shepherd and her best friend, Robby O’Reilly, discover that she’s a witch when Amethyst Jones, another young witch, reveals the news. A mysterious and powerful magic user named Miss Winters has arrived in town, embroiling the unsuspecting teens in a web of intrigue that stretches all the way back to the Salem witch trials. As Abby meets other young witches and learns how to harness her magic under the tutelage of Miss Winters, Robby is thrust into a missing person case and starts a romance with the new girl at school. Abby and Robby, who used to be inseparable, find themselves increasingly at odds as secrets and resentments come between them. But what they don’t know is that the mysteries of Willow Cove go far deeper than they ever imagined and that no one is exactly what they seem. Roberts perfectly balances small-town drama, preteen hijinks, and paranormal thriller action in an engaging novel with a vibrant cast of characters. The strength of Abby and Robby’s platonic relationship is a key element of the story, and the witches of Abby’s coven are each dynamic and unique in their own ways. The setting of Willow Cove is also commendably well developed, offering plenty of quirkiness and local color. It convincingly feels like a living entity with a vast history—one that Abby and her friends only begin to uncover in this book; more revelations may follow in a planned sequel, The Curse of Willow Cove.

A delightfully spooky page-turner for middle-grade readers.

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945654-49-7

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Owl Hollow Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE ZOMBIE PARADE

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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Laugh-out-loud ludicrousness.

THE INCREDIBLY DEAD PETS OF REX DEXTER

From the Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter series , Vol. 1

Haunted by the ghosts of dead pets, a kid must right their wrongs.

All sixth grader Rex wants is a “real-live” pet of his own—preferably a chocolate Labrador. Everyone he knows has a pet. His best friend, Darvish, a “pet hoarder,” has four—maybe five. In answer to Rex’s constant pleading, his parents give him a “practice pet”: a chicken. One hour and 14 minutes after the chicken enters Rex’s life, it becomes a real-dead pet. Things go from bad to worse when, after losing a mysterious carnival game called The Reaper’s Curse he finds on the sidewalk, Rex can not only suddenly see the ghosts of dead animals, but speak to and understand them. The chicken—Drumstick—is the first of many to communicate with Rex. As a de facto animal “afterlife errand boy,” can Rex help these ghosts rest in peace? Reynolds’ new series debut is nonstop comedy, poking fun at everything from animal rights groups to the education system. Rex’s first-person narration—heavily unreliable and hyperbolic—smartly utilizes direct address to implicate readers in the ridiculous plot. Several jokes skirt the edges of adult taste, with instances of potty humor that should especially delight kids. Most of the human characters are white by default; Darvish is Pakistani American.

Laugh-out-loud ludicrousness. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-05183-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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