A ghostly love story that’s heartfelt and bittersweet.

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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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Energetic, clever, and absorbing.

MY IMAGINARY MARY

From the Lady Janies series

Ada Lovelace and Mary Godwin—better known today as Mary Shelley—combine forces to create a living automaton: a real boy.

It’s the year “18—mumble mumble,” the timeline smooshed together into an imagined year when both girls are in their late teens. Ada, the abandoned daughter of famous poet Lord Byron, is a mathematical genius who creates delicate clockwork automatons. Mary’s the daughter of the late, famed early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. She’s half in love with poet Percy Shelley, her father’s mentee, and wonders if she’ll ever succeed at writing. The girls become friends when their fae godmother arrives through a hidden door in the back of Mary’s wardrobe to school them both on powers they may have inherited. Lo and behold, with Mary’s help, Ada’s automaton becomes a living—and lovely—boy named Pan. When villains want something from the girls, they take off, along with Pan and Mary’s two half sisters, on a romp through Europe. The trio of authors responsible for this entertaining smashup series get better with every book they write. Readers don’t have to know the characters’ real-life backstories to enjoy this story; for those who do, the parallels are intriguing. The novel effortlessly and entertainingly combines “Cinderella,” Frankenstein, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pinocchio, and Hamilton, and the ending reminds readers not to underestimate quiet women.

Energetic, clever, and absorbing. (Historical fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-293007-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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