Atmospheric, moody, and great fun.

HOUSE OF FURIES

A runaway works at a boardinghouse for the damned in late-Georgian–period England.

In a prologue, Louisa informs readers that she works for the Devil among other odd and cursed employees, cleaning up after the deaths of those who visit Coldthistle House. After fleeing an abusive, governess-training boarding school, Louisa scrapes by telling fortunes until she’s rescued from a sticky situation by a crone who promises employment at Coldthistle House. On the way, they’re joined by fellow Coldthistle-bound travelers: a wealthy (if unpleasant) man and his charming nephew, Lee, who takes to Louisa right away despite the fact that he’s a guest and she’s to be a new servant. Once they arrive, the crone quickly transforms into the much more proper house matron and manager, Mrs. Haylam, and Louisa’s other new co-workers quickly befriend her. But soon Louisa uncovers just how supernatural the eerie proprietor, Mr. Morningside, and the rest of the residents are. All guests are sinners marked for death. Louisa must help Lee with a mystery of his own and prove he doesn’t deserve a grisly end—or discover if he does. Characters’ emotional connections create wonderful tension. Periodic illustrations and excerpts from fictional supernatural texts provide concise exposition. Most characters are white, while many are inhuman. Louisa’s a classic Gothic narrator, her diction recalling genre standards. The ending is satisfying without ruling out sequels.

Atmospheric, moody, and great fun. (Horror. 13-adult)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249861-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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An optimistic, sophisticated portrayal of one facet of Chinese American—and simply American—history.

THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL

Jo Kuan leads a double life: a public role as a quiet lady’s maid and a secret one as the voice behind the hottest advice column in 1890 Atlanta.

Chinese American Jo is mostly invisible except for occasional looks of disdain and derisive comments, and she doesn’t mind: Her priority is making sure she and her adoptive father, Chinese immigrant Old Gin, remain safe in their abandoned abolitionists’ hideaway beneath a print shop. But even if she lives on the margins, Jo has opinions of her own which she shares in her newspaper advice column under the byline “Miss Sweetie.” Suddenly all of Atlanta is talking about her ideas, though they don’t know that the witty advice on relationships, millinery, and horse races comes from a Chinese girl. As curiosity about Miss Sweetie mounts, Jo may not be able to stay hidden much longer. And as she learns more about the blurred lines and the hard truths about race in her city and her own past, maybe she doesn’t want to. In her latest work, Lee (The Secret of a Heart Note, 2016, etc.) continues to demonstrate that Chinese people were present—and had a voice—in American history. She deftly weaves historical details with Jo’s personal story of finding a voice and a place for herself in order to create a single, luminous work.

An optimistic, sophisticated portrayal of one facet of Chinese American—and simply American—history. (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4095-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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