Abundantly original, marvelously inventive and enormous fun, this can stand alongside the best horror fiction out there. We...

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

Life can get tough for a boy who kills ghosts.

Teeth-chattering suspense and suppressed chuckles might attack readers in this superior black comedy/adventure. Theseus Cassio Lowood has inherited his father’s athame, a magical knife that can slice and dice ghosts to bits. He only kills ghosts who kill humans, but plenty of those lurk everywhere, forcing Cas and his white-witch mother to move constantly. When he answers a call to dispatch Anna, a ghost that’s brutally dismembered dozens of ill-fated folks who stepped into her house, for the first time Cas makes some friends. These help him until one steals the athame, an unfortunate choice. Meanwhile, Cas learns that Anna won’t kill him, so he enlists her aid in tracking down the voodoo spirit that literally ate his father. Blake populates the story with a nice mixture of personalities, including Anna, and spices it with plenty of gallows humor, all the while keeping the suspense pounding. The comedy works even better when juxtaposed against serious suspense, as Cas quips such lines as “I hate it when they don’t have eyes.” Matter-of-fact Anna leavens the comedy even as the suspense boils into terror. (Don't go in the basement.)

Abundantly original, marvelously inventive and enormous fun, this can stand alongside the best horror fiction out there. We demand sequels. (Paranormal adventure. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2865-6

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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