THE SOUND OF DROWNING

A heartbreaking love triangle, for readers who can’t stand love triangles.

Once, 17-year-old Meredith “Mer” Hall loved the ocean, indie music, and especially Ben Collins, her lifelong best friend–turned-boyfriend. Now she fears the sea, resents any human connection, and especially loathes herself for the way she ruined things. Still, even after hurting him so badly, she treasures the few secret hours she can snatch with Ben; so when new boy Wyatt Quinn—handsome, cocky, barely hiding his own pain—starts to get close, Mer’s afraid of risking her fragile stability. Alternating between flashbacks of her slowly developing relationship with Ben and her current efforts to cope with her crumbling life, Mer’s spiky, acerbic narration cannot conceal the agonizing undercurrents of insecurity, grief, and despair. The lushly described setting in North Carolina’s Outer Banks echoes her interior landscape: bleak, desolate, and subtly off-kilter. The twisty narrative avoids problem-novel territory, instead engaging with and exploring the underlying issues surrounding trust, autonomy, teenage sexuality, and depression frankly and nonjudgmentally, with more emphasis on emotional ramifications than graphic details. Secondary characters (like the protagonists, apparently all default to white) are loving and mean well but are hobbled by their own flaws and mistakes. Some readers might find the big reveal a bit over-the-top, but with Mer’s final choice—both unexpected and oh-so-right—a final dollop of magical realism provides a sweetly hopeful conclusion.

Harrowing but cathartic. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-711-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this.

THE GRIMROSE GIRLS

From the Grimrose Girls series , Vol. 1

Four reimagined fairy-tale heroines must confront their inner demons to break a curse.

Ella, Yuki, and Rory attend the prestigious Grimrose Académie for Elite Students in the Swiss Alps. They are currently grieving the death of one of their best friends, and while Ari’s death by drowning has been deemed either an accident or suicide, her closest friends have their doubts. When they find an old book of fairy tales hidden in Ari’s things, full of strange annotations in her handwriting, the girls start working—along with new student Nani—to investigate Ari’s suspicious death. As they put together the pieces and discover other deaths that happened at Grimrose, they start to wonder if there was magic involved in Ari’s death—magic that may also be at the core of their very lives, cursing them to unhappy endings. Grief, identity, and friendship intersect in this enthralling mystery with dark magical undertones that ingeniously plays with fairy-tale tropes to tell a feminist story about empowerment and grappling with how to break away from the confines of societal expectations of girls. Reminiscent of the works of Anna-Marie McLemore and Elana K. Arnold, this book ends with the promise of more to come. The main cast is queer and features diversity in disability and mental health. Rory and Ella default to White; Yuki’s name cues her as Japanese, and Nani is Black and Native Hawaiian.

Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-887-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage.

THE NOBLEMAN'S GUIDE TO SCANDAL AND SHIPWRECKS

From the Montague Siblings series , Vol. 3

Adrian, the youngest of the Montague siblings, sails into tumultuous waters in search of answers about himself, the sudden death of his mother, and her mysterious, cracked spyglass.

On the summer solstice less than a year ago, Caroline Montague fell off a cliff in Aberdeen into the sea. When the Scottish hostel where she was staying sends a box of her left-behind belongings to London, Adrian—an anxious, White nobleman on the cusp of joining Parliament—discovers one of his mother’s most treasured possessions, an antique spyglass. She acquired it when she was the sole survivor of a shipwreck many years earlier. His mother always carried that spyglass with her, but on the day of her death, she had left it behind in her room. Although he never knew its full significance, Adrian is haunted by new questions and is certain the spyglass will lead him to the truth. Once again, Lee crafts an absorbing adventure with dangerous stakes, dynamic character growth, sharp social and political commentary, and a storm of emotion. Inseparable from his external search for answers about his mother, Adrian seeks a solution for himself, an end to his struggle with mental illness—a journey handled with hopeful, gentle honesty that validates the experiences of both good and bad days. Characters from the first two books play significant secondary roles, and the resolution ties up their loose ends. Humorous antics provide a well-measured balance with the heavier themes.

An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291601-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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