A really scary and original ghost story, well told. Read it with the lights on.

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THE DEAD GIRLS OF HYSTERIA HALL

A rebellious 16-year-old becomes trapped in a definitely haunted old insane asylum, possibly forever.

This superior ghost story keeps the creep factor high, presenting readers with what appears to be a just-normal-ghost-folks mystery storyline before turning into a suspensefest. When Delia inherits a house—a notorious former insane asylum—from a namesake aunt, her whole family goes to stay there. It doesn’t take long for Delia to realize the place is seriously haunted, but although the house will release her family, it kills her rather than let her go. Stuck there, she meets a variety of ghosts, most of whom seem quite pleasant but none of whom can leave the premises. Delia seems to be making progress in uncovering the secret evil of the house, but her investigations threaten both her and her family. Plus, the initially friendly ghosts might not all be as they first seem. Alender creates a fascinating, eerie world that turns on a nicely original use of time and features constantly interesting characters. Delia is likable and sympathetic even as she strikes out, and the house itself becomes a character, as readers wonder who or what is at the root of the evil that lurks there. The final confrontation will have readers curling their toes.

A really scary and original ghost story, well told. Read it with the lights on. (Paranormal suspense. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-63999-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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