Though the book seems to want to read like a teen version of Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” with romance, its...

THE LAST HARVEST

Clay Tate never believed his dead father’s crazed ramblings about devil worshippers in Midland, Oklahoma.

When he finds a slaughtered calf on his family’s farm, though, Clay knows that something evil is plaguing his town and that he and his friends—who also happen to be the sixth generation of the town’s founding farmers—might be responsible for ushering in the apocalypse. Though populated and narrated by young people, the book does not feel in touch with its putative audience, and in particular, Clay’s teenage voice is unauthentic. Supporting characters come across as generic: Clay’s mother is a prop character whose purpose seems to be to give the illusion of an authority figure in Clay’s life; the town sheriff plays the dual good cop–bad cop role but never moves beyond that character arc; and one of the novel’s main villains has no real substance. Clay, white with dark-blond hair, and Ali, white with dark-brown hair, spend much of the novel pining for each other, but unfortunately, Ali is a cookie-cutter version of the girl next door, and their romance is lackluster.

Though the book seems to want to read like a teen version of Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” with romance, its implausible characters and chaotic plotline will leave readers cold. (Horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8098-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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A layered, stylized, brooding mystery that will draw readers in.

A LESSON IN VENGEANCE

A young woman’s return to her monied boarding school is haunted by the trauma of her girlfriend’s recent death and the school’s rumored history involving witchcraft in this contemporary thriller.

Felicity Morrow’s senior year was cut short after her girlfriend Alex died, and her decision to return to the Dalloway School because “being friendless at Dalloway was better than being friendless anywhere else” makes clear her feelings of isolation. It’s seemingly inevitable that she’ll be drawn into the orbit of infamous new student Ellis Haley, who, despite her young age, has already written a Pulitzer-winning novel. Amid a fantastical, darkly atmospheric haze of cigarette smoke and hard alcohol, Felicity agrees to assist Ellis in her research about the Dalloway Five, girls whose gruesome deaths centuries earlier at the school are shrouded in mystery and who were the subject of her own abandoned senior thesis. Richly imagined queer characters, including Ellis’ older nonbinary sibling, Quinn, are the stars of this story, which incrementally reveals truths about Alex’s death as it winds the bond between Felicity and Ellis ever tighter, spinning a tale rife with literary references, magnetic romance, and occasionally melodramatic but menacing gothic tropes out to its end. The protagonists are cued White; there is ethnic diversity in secondary and background characters.

A layered, stylized, brooding mystery that will draw readers in. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30582-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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