A motley crew of teens band together to catch a serial killer and break the perverse spell that keeps their New Zealand resort town so idyllic.
The older brothers of Summerton’s residents and vacationers are killing themselves—one boy each year—and prepared-for-anything Keri, sexy would-be rocker Janna and dreamy, insecure Sione, who’ve all lost their older brothers, figure it’s no coincidence. Working the case with a tenacity and creativity that would do Sam Spade proud, the three discover that otherwise-trustworthy adults are members of a coven using dark magic to force a teen boy to kill himself each year. The suicides are a sacrifice, renewing a protective spell the coven placed on Summerton to protect it from the economic hardships that have befallen neighboring resort towns. The stakes escalate when they discover that the coven has chosen a Japanese tourist very much taken with Janna to be the next victim, putting the young detective team in a race against time. A teen noir hinging on the discovery of witchcraft could easily fall into self-conscious cutesiness or collapse under the weight of its own self-seriousness, but Healey (Guardian of the Dead, 2010) seamlessly integrates noir and fantasy tropes to explore issues of suicide, trust, sexuality, race, insecurity and free will in a way that feels fresh.
Less a whodunit than a "how do we stop it!?", this fantasy-steeped mystery should appeal to fans of Franny Billingsley's Chime (2011) and Holly Black's Curse Workers series. (Paranormal suspense. 14 & up)