THE MIDNIGHT CURSE

Multiple ghosts and confusing chronology muddle this tale of two children left to roam an old mansion they’re about to inherit while their mother is parked somewhere in suspended animation. (Or maybe not, as she reappears at the end, oblivious to the fact that days have seemingly passed.) Not only is Blaxston Manor a bewildering tangle of arbitrarily numbered stairways and dusty rooms, but as fraternal twins Charlie and Lacey discover, at least three ghosts haunt the premises: an angry poltergeist who lays a silly curse on Charlie (he has to sleep in water or he’ll shrivel into a mummy), a young would-be burglar who died of fright decades before and a friendly tour guide who walks through walls but can also, paradoxically, put away a hearty breakfast. Fortunately there’s a village psychic to help with the curse….unfortunately the plot is so weighted with contrivances and shredded with gaps in logic that it falls apart. (Ghost story. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55453-358-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS

AN ENOLA HOLMES MYSTERY

With gleeful panache, Springer introduces an innocent but capable young sleuth—the younger sister of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, no less—and takes her from wild English countryside to the soupy filth of Victorian London. Having led a free-spirited but cloistered life on the ancestral country estate, 14-year-old Enola Holmes is thrown for a loop by her mother’s sudden disappearance—not to mention the subsequent arrival of her long-absent big brothers, both of whom turn out to be overbearing and dismissive of women. Rather than meekly knuckle under, though, Enola makes careful preparation (she thinks) and slips off to track her wayward parent down. On the way, she falls into the furor surrounding an apparent kidnapping (see title)—and then, barely does she arrive in the big city before some authentically scary ruffians snatch her, too. Naïve but a quick study, and more resourceful than even her renowned siblings, Enola resolutely surmounts each challenge that comes her way. By the end, she has rescued the spoiled young aristocrat, eluded her brothers, gotten a lead on her mother thanks to a series of cleverly coded messages and even set herself up as a “Perditorian”—a finder of lost things and people. A tasty appetizer, with every sign of further courses to come. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24304-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Sleuth/Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.

A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON

This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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