An intricate supernatural mystery with an overly gifted heroine.

The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts

THE UNBELIEVABLES BOOK 1

Tansley’s YA fantasy/mystery tells a story of ghosts, curses, and a deadly secret.

Kat Preston is a prep school student who can see ghosts, or, as she calls them, “unbelievables.” She’s tried to deny her power ever since she was 9, when a friendly ghost saved her from being possessed by another spirit. Ghosts are invading her life once again as she researches the lives of Cassie Mallory and Sebastian Radcliffe, who left only two things behind when they disappeared on their 1886 wedding night: a pool of blood and a family curse. Her instructor, professor Astor, invites her to be part of a team that will investigate the disappearances at their source—Castle Creighton on Connecticut’s Isle of Acacia. Kat visits the castle only a few weeks before a family curse is due to strike the final Radcliffe heir. Any hopes of avoiding the supernatural are dashed when Kat and her antagonistic teacher’s-assistant Evan, are pulled through a magical mirror. They find themselves in the bodies of Sebastian’s friends Toria and Alistair shortly before the Radcliffe wedding in 1886. They both have to return to their own time before their souls become too weak, but before that, they must stop Sebastian and Cassie’s bloody disappearance. As time runs out, Kat’s and Evan’s connections to the deadly plot become clear. The novel’s murder mystery is intriguing and grows more complex as its supernatural elements are unveiled. Readers will enjoy connecting the dots and guessing at the motivations of the Radcliffes’ wedding guests. However, Kat proves to be one of the novel’s most unbelievable elements. Her supernatural gifts grow more fanciful and powerful as the novel progresses, and her knowledge of obscure topics seems unnatural for a student who appeals to her professor for a B-plus on a paper; she can also identify Rococo artists by name, tell the difference between statues of Oceanus and Poseidon by their tridents, and use words such as “iolite” and “labradorite” to describe eye colors. As a result, she seems almost too perfect.

An intricate supernatural mystery with an overly gifted heroine.

Pub Date: July 31, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Beckett Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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