DOUBLE IDENTITY

Bethany’s life has always been safe and protected; her parents comfort her, spoil her and spend frequent quality time with her. But one day, when she’s almost 13, her parents bundle her into the car and drive her to Sanderfield, Ill., where they leave her with an aunt she never knew she had. Aunt Myrlie is kind, but nobody will tell Bethany where her parents have gone. Why do Myrlie, her adult daughter and the Sanderfield townspeople stare at Bethany as if she’s a ghost? Who is this mysterious “Elizabeth” she keeps hearing about? As Bethany finds answers to some of her questions, a mysterious man follows her around town. Tough philosophical puzzles are raised here, though explored too lightly, as Bethany confronts identity, free will, ethics vs. law and whether parents should live vicariously through their children. A surprisingly comforting resolution concludes this safe but compelling thriller. Bethany’s discovery of her own identity makes for a mystery well worth solving. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-689-87374-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2005

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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A truly #BlackGirlMagic, cloudy-day, curl-up kind of book.

MAYA AND THE RISING DARK

From the Maya and the Rising Dark series , Vol. 1

Maya knows her father’s stories aren’t real—are they?

Maya, a comic-book–loving, anemic 12-year-old Black girl, is suffering through situational math when she experiences a sudden, time-stopped moment when “the color bled from the world like someone was sucking it away through a straw.” That is not the only strange incident: Maya has an all-too-real dream of a man with skin “the color of the moon” and “pale violet eyes” who has the same color-sucking ability; her structural engineer papa literally disappears in front of her; and when she and her friends Frankie and Eli find themselves fighting shape-shifting darkbringers, Frankie discovers her own light-shooting skills. What Maya, Frankie, Eli, and readers find out from Maya’s mother is that Papa’s real identity is Elegguá, the most powerful of the West African orishas, guardian of the veil between this world and those of the darkbringers and other forces. Not only that, but Frankie’s newly found gift came from her late mother, who is also an orisha, and Eli is part orisha, too. The astonishing series of subsequent revelations leaves readers agog, eager to know how Maya and her pals will use their powers to heal the veil and save their mostly Black and brown neighborhood. In her author’s note, Barron describes how this book has risen from her explorations of the traditions of her West African ancestors.

A truly #BlackGirlMagic, cloudy-day, curl-up kind of book. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-63518-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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