Otherwise, a smooth and not-too-scary page-turner, with room in its conclusion for a third installment.

READ REVIEW

FROM BAD TO CURSED

A group of social-climbing high-school girls makes a deal with a demon in this sassy, easily digestible horror story.

After saving her little sister Kasey from demonic possession in Bad Girls Don't Die (2009), pink-haired, confident Alexis hopes her time battling fiends is over. When Kasey starts high school, however, she falls in with the Sunshine Club, a group of girls who turn out to be involved with the demon Aralt, and Alexis, hoping to protect her sister, joins the club herself. Although it takes some time for Alexis to realize she has become possessed, her condition is no secret from readers. The author effectively blends Alexis' take-charge, nonconformist personality with Aralt's aggressively sunny, obsessively image-conscious influence. Life becomes easier with Aralt's help: Alexis heals quickly from injuries, manipulates her suspicious boyfriend and attracts the attention of well-placed adults, some of them also Aralt's devotees. The tension comes from watching Alexis' demon-fighting resolve weaken and uncovering clues about the true cost of Aralt's seeming benevolence. A few nasty fat jokes undercut the novel's ostensible stance against looks-related bullying, and using a girl who walks with a cane to represent the most desperate of losers is tasteless and unnecessary.

Otherwise, a smooth and not-too-scary page-turner, with room in its conclusion for a third installment. (Supernatural thriller. 12 & up)

Pub Date: June 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3471-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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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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A bright spark of a promising series.

INFINITY SON

From the Infinity Cycle series , Vol. 1

Magic goes viral in Silvera’s (contributor: Color Outside the Lines, 2019, etc.) fantasy debut. But can it win a war?

For brothers Brighton and Emil, their 18th birthday is “off to a rough start.” The two dream of being celestials (people with magic abilities) but are reminded yet again that they’re “painfully ordinary.” Or are they? When potions dealers attack the brothers, Emil discovers that he has phoenix fire within. Brighton uploads a video of the fight online, propelling Emil—whom the celestial-obsessed dub “Fire-Wing”—to superstardom. The brothers find themselves caught in the crossfire between the heroic Spell Walkers, who fight for the end of celestial persecution, and the power-hungry Blood Casters, who gain magic by stealing it from creatures. With its raw, complex characters, Silvera’s latest packs his signature high-stakes emotionalism alongside a politically charged premise. The alternate New York City setting mixes current tech (e.g., virtual reality and Instagram) with magical tech (e.g., wands and gem-grenades) to create a richly contemporary urban landscape. Though Silvera mostly switches between Emil’s and Brighton’s strong, first person, present-tense narration, the perspectives of a Spell Walker and a Blood Caster are also magnified. The cast primarily consists of people of color, several of whom are also queer (including Emil, who is gay).

A bright spark of a promising series. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-245782-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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