Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Kate Brian

Age Range: 11 - 16

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4231-6483-8
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Rory’s life is turned upside down when she is attacked by a serial killer who has been posing as a math teacher at her school.

The FBI informs the family that over the years, Mr. Nell has murdered 14 other girls and always escaped. He is even able to overcome the alarm system the FBI has rigged at Rory’s house to leave a rose and a threatening message on Rory’s bed. Quickly, the family is sent from New Jersey down the coast to a Southern resort island town. Along the way, Rory has a vivid nightmare that she, her father, her sister and the attacker are all killed violently. Life in Juniper Landing is partly delicious and partly frightening. It’s full of gorgeous boys and girls who quickly make the acquaintance of Rory and her sister, Darcy, but there is no cell service or Internet, isolating them. The juxtaposition of reality against the dream world mirrors the alternation between Rory’s account of events and short sections in which the killer describes his thoughts. These passages combine with the peculiarity of the town, its weather and a populace that is gradually disappearing to provide the ample goose bumps and chills required for the genre; it’s suspenseful all the way up to its final, disappointing reveal.

Suspend disbelief and it’s a fun ride. (Horror. 11-16)