These girls are less wild than troubled.

WILD GIRLS

In the dying Appalachian town of Swan River, Kate Riordan attends the rather elite Academy for Girls. She’s a local girl, torn between her hometown roots and her desire to escape. 

Atwell’s debut novel examines the violence simmering among adolescent girls and their friendships. Kate’s mother and older sister seem stuck with dead-end jobs and underwhelming boyfriends. Swan River is cursed not only with simmering rage rooted in economic failure, but also with its shrouded history of wild girls. Every so often, teenage girls suddenly begin to glow, set things on fire with just their fingertips, massacre townspeople and sometimes even fly. The danger seems to derive from the poorest section of town, Bloodwort Road, where the witchlike Mrs. Lemons tells frightening fortunes; her daughter Crystal seems particularly unstable; and her son Mason seeks his own escape by dating Academy girls. Yet, the Academy isn’t as far removed from Bloodwort Road as Kate hopes. Her best friend, the popular Willow, is adept at collecting girls—her minions, as Kate mockingly calls them—yet she convinces Kate to set her up with Mason. Kate’s other best friend, Caroline, has already begun researching the history of the wild girls. Dr. Bell, the Academy’s headmaster and teacher of “Myths and Mysteries,” stokes her interest in the local legend by linking it to the disturbing Greek maenads. When Crystal turns wild one night, burning down most of Bloodwort Road and Willow provokes Mason into a jealous confrontation, Kate begins to realize that Mason and Swan River may mean more to her than Willow and the Academy. But the wilding isn’t over yet. Unfortunately, the suspense drags rather than builds, and events move along sluggishly toward a predictable confrontation.

These girls are less wild than troubled.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-8327-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

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THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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