A strange but enrapturing read that may leave teenagers (and some adults) anticipating the next installment.

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DAUGHTER OF THE FALLEN

In Winn’s debut paranormal YA romance, a demonic force haunts a 16-year-old and threatens to destroy everyone she loves.

In the story’s opening scene, Mason “May” Krieg; her boyfriend, Cay; and the school heartthrob, Jack, are attempting to fulfill a school assignment by verifying local legends of graveyard hauntings and satanic rituals. The trio’s ghost hunt becomes real when Mason falls down a mine shaft, and an indistinguishable dark force knocks her unconscious. After she returns home from the nightmarish ordeal, the shadowy presence, which turns out to be a demon, continues to haunt her. To add insult to Mason’s injury, Cay confesses a secret that ends their relationship. However, Mason, like most heroines of this genre, is still desired by nearly every young man she meets. She’s a self-described “drama-dance nerd,” and what she lacks in conventional popularity and designer clothes, she makes up for with her sassy intelligence. As a result, she not only has to contend with a demon, but also with the leering advances of every male classmate. Several plot twists come Mason’s way, and she weathers the challenges with remarkable, if sometimes unbelievable, maturity. Like Stephenie Meyer’s Bella Swan, she’s unwittingly thrown into a paranormal conflict, and like Stephen King’s Carrie, she possesses frightening supernatural power within herself. Things become truly bizarre, though, when the demon, a Fabio-like being with leather pants and luxurious long hair, begins haunting her with sexually charged dreams. Readers may find the love-hate romance between Mason and sensitive jock Jack to be a guilty pleasure, even if it’s sometimes a little clichéd. That said, this novel isn’t recommended for younger teens, as it contains scenes of rape and violence. Other readers, however, will eagerly accept this fast-paced story of biblical demons and teenage lust.

A strange but enrapturing read that may leave teenagers (and some adults) anticipating the next installment.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1502827869

Page Count: 244

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Decadent escapism.

THE DAMNED

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 2

Following The Beautiful (2019), Bastien and Celine struggle with the consequences of her deal with Nicodemus.

After Celine traded her memories of them in exchange for his powerful vampire uncle Nico’s turning him, Bastien’s reborn as a vampire—and he’s not happy about it. Volatile, he embraces vices until his uncle, having given up on molding Bastien as a human legacy, decides on even higher aspirations for Bastien, ambitions in the Otherworld that the vampires had been banished from. The mythologies hinted at before (the Fallen, the Brotherhood, the Otherworld, the Sylvan Wyld’s Winter Court, and the Summer Court of the Sylvan Vale) are unveiled in expansive worldbuilding. On top of that, multiple members of the Saint Germains’ vampire family gain greater prominence in third-person point-of-view chapters that frequently reveal their backstories. Meanwhile, Celine recovers from residual traumas from experiences that she can’t remember—because of a head injury, or so she’s been told. Handsome detective Michael is patient with her every step of the way; she wishes she could return his feelings, but nagging flashes of memory have her looking for someone else. But those returning bits of memory shouldn’t be possible, not with how powerful Nico is. Eventually, the romantic storyline gets quite steamy. Historical, multicultural New Orleans is depicted with all its racism—Bastien is multiracial (quadroon and Taíno) and Celine’s French father was always secretive about her Asian mother.

Decadent escapism. (map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984812-58-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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