GIRL OF NIGHTMARES

Pulse-pounding thrills leavened with laughter.

A satisfying conclusion to ghostly Anna’s terrifying story comes with more heart-thumping suspense and clever quips as Cas tries to save her from an undeserved, dreadful fate.

In the outstanding Anna Dressed in Blood (2011), the ghost, Anna, saved Cas, the ghost-killer, by dragging the voodoo monster, Obeahman, down into Hell. Now she’s back, asking Cas to rescue her, and he’s determined to do it despite all advice to the contrary. This sequel takes Cas and his friends to Britain and a secret cult that wants Cas’ athame, the magical knife that kills ghosts. There he meets Jestine, who believes she should be the next athame warrior, although unlike Cas, she wants to kill ghosts whether or not they’re dangerous to humans. She joins Cas for the final showdown against the Obeahman, who ate both Cas’ cat and his father and now holds Anna hostage. Blake provides enough background explanation to bring new readers into the story, but for full appreciation, readers should start with book one. This new author has a serious talent for action but also for delicious dry humor (“I’ve sort of been slacking off in my voodoo studies. I’ve got trigonometry, you know?”). The exciting conclusion leaves the coast clear for a whole series starring Cas or for something entirely different, whatever the author wishes. Either way, Stephen King ought to start looking over his shoulder.

Pulse-pounding thrills leavened with laughter. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2866-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

TOO SCARED TO SLEEP

A fresh, generous, wide-ranging compendium of frights.

Spooky stories covering multiple subgenres, plus some added attractions.

Few horrific tropes or creepy conventions are overlooked in Duplessie’s debut. The stories are arranged into six sections: “Short Frights for Dark Nights,” “Anatomical Anomalies,” “Five Minutes in the Future,” “Be Careful Who You Trust,” “The Dark Web,” and “The Unearthly, the Ghoulish, and the Downright Monstrous.” Some of the best entries are grounded in familiar setups, but Duplessie is careful to avoid repetition. The stories’ relatively short lengths and the crisp, direct writing style make this volume inviting for even reluctant readers, but it doesn’t shy away from the truly terrifying and grotesque. That said, the grisliest events are often described with poetic elegance rather than gratuitous violence: “His face collapsed like an empty paper bag.” The stories frequently conclude with the suggestion of frights to come rather than graphic depictions. One ends with an overly curious girl getting sealed up in a brick wall. Another foreshadows the murderous power of a cellphone. Highlights include the eerie “The Reaping,” in which the prick of a rose’s thorn triggers a spate of bloodlust, and “Chamber of Horrors,” which features a murderous iron maiden. Each story ends with a bonus in the form of a QR code and instructions to “scan the code for a scare”—if readers dare. Short, eerie poems are peppered throughout; there are even a handful of riddles. Most characters read white; names cue some ethnic diversity.

A fresh, generous, wide-ranging compendium of frights. (Horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780063266483

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

THE LAKE

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

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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