Morbid and moving, transcendent and triumphant.

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NIGHTSPELL

The distinctions between life and death are dissolved with sinister consequences in this dark companion to Mistwood (2010).

In the night-shrouded court of Ghostland, the dead do not rest quietly; they mingle freely with the living, dominating their amusements, intrigues and politics, centuries after their bodies have rotted away. Despite their disgust, the nomadic Raellians sent Callie, their youngest princess, as a prospective royal bride. Now her siblings have come at last: Prince Varis, ambitious for alliance (or conquest), and Princess Darri, determined to rescue Callie from her ghastly fate. Callie is not ready to leave, however, and the living and the dead each have their own agenda for their "barbarian" guests. While only a secondary character links this to the earlier title, fans will recognize the poetic style and rich characterization. The three protagonists stand out in their blunt vitality, but every character is portrayed with complexity and clear-eyed sympathy; none is unambiguously hero or villain. Elegant, allusive prose conveys both the claustrophobic horror and overripe allure of the decadent court, where the dead exude macabre charm, disarming sorrow and a dreadful "otherness." Some may be disappointed in the lack of dramatic resolutions; the more thoughtful will appreciate the fluid navigation between good and evil, freedom and duty, life and death, with only love reigning supreme.

Morbid and moving, transcendent and triumphant. (Horror. 14 & up)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-195702-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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