Creative ideas outpace the writing quality.

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LIGHTBRINGER

Wendy struggles to hold her personal life together while performing the Lightbringer duties of reaping souls of the dead.

In McEntire's debut, ghosts wander the land in between living and a true afterlife, a land called the Never. Wendy, as a Lightbringer, can see and interact with the Never. Piotr is one of the ghosts of the Never, an eternal teenager who, as a Rider, protects the ghosts of children: When children die with too much life ahead of them, their ghosts become batteries for cannibalistic adult ghosts called Walkers. Wendy discovers that the Never is far more dangerous than she imagined when her mother's soul goes missing after an accident. Meanwhile, Piotr finds protecting his group of children, the Lost, increasingly difficult, as Walkers have begun organizing under the power of a mysterious creature, the White Lady. When Wendy and Piotr team up to help each other with the strange happenings of the Never, the White Lady begins haunting Wendy's dreams. The prose is bloated and initially disorienting, with dialogue aiming to reflect the time periods of the ghosts coming off instead as stilted. The narrative is strongest when it recalls Wendy's familial obligations—holding her siblings and household together in the place of her comatose mother—and allows them to conflict with her job and growing affection for Piotr. Superficial references to Peter Pan fail to resonate meaningfully, leaving them effectively nothing more than a naming device.

Creative ideas outpace the writing quality. (Paranormal romance. 12-17)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-61614-539-2

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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