How will readers stand the wait? (Historical/paranormal thriller. 14 & up)

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LAIR OF DREAMS

From the Diviners series , Vol. 2

Evie O'Neill, a young psychic fresh from a horrific experience with a serial killer in 1920s New York City, returns in this sequel to The Diviners (2012).

After going public about her abilities as a Diviner of the personal histories of others, Evie has rocketed into the limelight as the Sweetheart Seer, even garnering her own radio show. Her notoriety has driven a wedge between her and her uncle, whose occult museum is in dire financial straits, and it’s also forced her to fake a romance with smooth-talking Sam Lloyd for the press. Meanwhile, her friend Henry attempts to find the boy he loves, seeking help from Ling Chan, who, like him, is a dream walker, even as people all over the city fall prey to a mysterious sleeping sickness, for which Chinese-American residents are unfairly blamed. The ambitiously broad focus of this novel strikes just the right balance in its division of narrative might, developing each of the dizzyingly large cast of diverse characters with an impressive attention to detail and with period-specific, witty dialogue. Weaving together a chilling mystery with a truly elusive solution, several poignant love stories, agonizing injustice, terrifyingly monstrous dreams, and even a cameo by legendary psychiatrist Carl Jung, this installment wraps enough up to satisfy but clearly sets the stage for more.

How will readers stand the wait? (Historical/paranormal thriller. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-12604-5

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Dark, demanding, and delicious.

TALES FROM THE HINTERLAND

From the Hazel Wood series , Vol. 2.5

Twelve pitch-black original fairy tales form the backbone to an acclaimed fantasy series.

Fans of the Hazel Wood series know of Althea Proserpine’s cult anthology, the original stories whose characters escaped into our world. Featuring, among others, Hansa the Traveler, Twice-Killed Katherine, and, of course, Alice-Three-Times (whose tale’s much-speculated-about ending falls oddly flat), the stories feel both familiar—the first was already included in its entirety in the series opener and several others, in abbreviated and altered form—and revelatory, unfolding in all their rich, lush, macabre, and grisly glory. Despite their vaguely preindustrial Western European setting, these are anything but traditional folktales. While every protagonist is female, the themes are not explicitly feminist; rather, the overwhelming tone is savage, angry, bitter, and cruel. Most of the leads do achieve a vicious and vengeful sort of triumph, but only one even approaches a conventional happy ending. Relationships (exclusively heterosexual) are only an excuse for male lust, domination, and manipulation. Parents (especially mothers) are mostly neglectful, smothering, abusive…or dead. Death, often horrific death, is a constant presence, even as a literal character in several stories. Although this collection could well be read on its own, the unrelenting grimness can be wearying; it may be best appreciated for the context and commentary it offers for the preceding volumes. Tierney’s bold illustrations, many featuring stark, contrasting tones of red, black, and white, accentuate the mood. There is some diversity in skin tone.

Dark, demanding, and delicious. (Fairy tales. 16-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-30272-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls.

THUNDERHEAD

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 2

Death proves impermanent in this sequel to Scythe (2016).

In a world run by the (almost) all-powerful and (almost) omniscient artificial intelligence Thunderhead, only the Honorable Scythes deal permanent death to near-immortal humans. Yet a growing contingent of scythes, feared and flattered by society and operating outside the Thunderhead’s control, are proving rather dishonorable. No longer apprentices, 18-year-olds Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch realize “the scythedom is…high school with murder” as they watch their fellow scythes jockey for power and prestige. Citra now gleans as Scythe Anastasia, questioning the status quo but also opposing the homicidally enthusiastic “new-order” scythes and their dangerous demagogue. Self-appointed as Scythe Lucifer, Rowan hunts other scythes whom he deems corrupt. Meanwhile, the existentially troubled Thunderhead questions its role as both creation and caretaker of humanity, sworn not to take life but fearing that its utopia will otherwise collapse into dystopia. Nationality and race are minimally mentioned—ethnic biases and genocide are considered very gauche—yet a population that defies death, aging, sickness, poverty, and war risks becoming bleakly homogenous, alleviated only by “unsavories” and scythes. This sequel digs deeper into Shusterman’s complex world and complicated characters, offering political maneuvering, fatal conspiracies, and impending catastrophe via a slowly unfurling plot and startling bursts of action.

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7245-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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