A ghostly love story that’s heartfelt and bittersweet.

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KNEE DEEP

A teenager’s love for her longtime friend and neighbor defies the odds in a paranormal romance by the author of Surf Ed. (2007).

New Orleanian Camille Darveau has known Antwone Despre all her life but decided she loved him two years ago. In their part of the South, some people may disapprove of their potential coupling—she’s white and he’s African American. But she bravely makes her first move by inviting Antwone to her sixteenth birthday party, although he has a girlfriend, Emily (who pompously dubs herself “M—,” pronounced “Em”). Unfortunately, as it’s 2005, Hurricane Katrina soon hits and wreaks devastation. Camille learns that Antwone is among the dead. He does, however, return as a spirit by periodically entering the body of Camille’s friend, Beano Benoit, a gay high school quarterback. Only Camille sees Antwone; others think Beano is trying to connect with M— and possibly cheating on his new love interest, Lewis Sinclair. This doesn’t stop Camille from trying to summon Antwone, as she feels their love is mutual. But while trouble is stirring, with Beano aware of what’s occasionally happening to him and Camille at variance with M—, Camille grudgingly acknowledges the best option may be to let Antwone go. Novelist and TV screenwriter Hoeffner weaves an absorbing, sorrowful tale from this material. Katrina isn’t merely a plot device but a real-life tragedy that touches characters throughout, and Camille has multiple run-ins with a dangerous man taking advantage of survivors of the hurricane. There are few shared scenes with Antwone and Camille prior to his death. But it’s clear as the narrative progresses that Camille’s love and longing are genuine, and potentially having to say goodbye is heartbreaking for her. Hoeffner suitably details the French Quarter and, eventually, Mardi Gras, while subtly incorporating instances of racism and a family that discourages interracial relationships. It’s a sometimes-bleak story, though the author doesn’t let it slip into overwhelming gloom.

A ghostly love story that’s heartfelt and bittersweet.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64603-009-5

Page Count: 219

Publisher: Regal House Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2020

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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