With all the trappings of straightforward horror, this tale kicks down genre doors to become a glowing adventure.

FAWN

This middle-grade debut stars a girl whose new home borders on woods full of remarkable, dreadful secrets.

Eleven-year-old Freya Ward and her parents have just moved to acreage in the country. She already misses her friends Amanda and Chelsea, who will have to visit on weekends. When the Wards reach their new residence, “a steal for the price,” Freya dashes into the woods behind the old house. After battling through some tough undergrowth, she finds a clearing. She then hears a “hauntingly eerie, yet beautiful” sound. Near a rocky basin of water, she sees something that at first appears to be another mossy boulder. This is Fawn, who looks like a giant lemur who’s hatched from the woods itself. Fawn has entrancing eyes, rows of sharp teeth, and a lovely voice. Freya befriends the strange creature, but when she tries to leave, Fawn threatens to eat her—and the girl barely escapes. Two weeks later, the family has settled in a bit. Freya wonders if she imagined the encounter. She and her father decide to build a treehouse in the woods. It’s then that she meets a ghostly boy with sunken eyes who says, “Look behind the door in the basement.” In this chilling novel, Dougherty tests young horror fans with a Brothers Grimm–style descent into a magical realm called the hollow. Her prose conveys the primordial wonder of the forest, as in the line “Shafts of sunlight that made it through the trees illuminated specks of dust that were floating in the air.” Psychological aspects of the story are just as detailed, as when Freya tries to explain Fawn to Amanda and Chelsea, but “they really did not understand the scope of what was happening...and she envied them a great deal for that.” The author unspools deeper weirdness with the hollow, a labyrinthine inner wood where beings like Twitch, Meathead, and the enigmatic Root await discovery. A satisfying ending should have fans begging to learn what happens next.

With all the trappings of straightforward horror, this tale kicks down genre doors to become a glowing adventure.

Pub Date: April 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5255-2111-9

Page Count: 204

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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