A fast-paced thriller full of twists and surprises.

DEVIL DARLING SPY

From the Orphan Monster Spy series , Vol. 2

Evil wears many faces.

In this fast-paced sequel to Orphan Monster Spy (2018), Killeen brings back Jewish German Sarah and the British Captain, spies who aim to keep biological warfare out of the hands of the Axis powers during World War II. In order to thwart a plan between Shirō Ishii, a Japanese army surgeon, and SS-Obersturmbannführer Kurt Hasse to wreak biological havoc across the globe, 16-year-old Sarah, the Captain, and Clementine, their new servant of French and Senegalese descent, travel to central Africa. Their goal is to locate the White Devil who is rumored to be spreading a highly contagious disease that causes relentless bleeding, ultimately resulting in death. Their travels take them deep into the Congo, where they pretend to be missionaries. While Sarah works with German missionaries who are already there to treat the plague, Clementine educates her on the complexities of evil. Sarah must determine what—or who—the actual threat to humanity is. As not all people are who they present themselves to be, Sarah uses her wits and spy training to protect the world from pestilence. Unfortunately, Clementine’s character is not well developed and her emotions are not nuanced; she comes across as embodying negative stereotypes of black women, appearing mean, hard, and, at times, cruel.

A fast-paced thriller full of twists and surprises. (author’s note) (Historical thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-451-47925-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Slightly educational, mostly fun.

THE PERFECT PLACE TO DIE

A twist on disturbing historical events.

Sisters Zuretta and Ruby want to escape their abusive Utahn family, but Ruby manages to leave home first. When her letters abruptly stop coming, Zuretta heads east to Chicago to discover why. The teenager is immediately beset by grifters, but she has plenty of pluck: When police refuse to help her locate Ruby, she finds work as a maid in the hotel where her sister was last employed. That building, the Castle, is an ominous warren of hidden rooms and false doors populated by sinister employees—and the charming Dr. Henry Holmes. Holmes, a real mass murderer active during the Chicago World’s Fair, published writings after his conviction, and excerpts open each chapter. Zuretta’s involvement in the case is fictionalized, but the story’s true origins add suspense and excitement. Zuretta’s dreams of her sister as a moldering, ambulatory corpse don’t quite match the realistic events of the rest of the novel, and certain characters and events (the Pinkerton heir who helps her on her first day in Chicago, a hotel worker whose appearances stop once she’s less useful for the protagonist) are more convenient than is satisfying, but this novel will appeal to readers excited about an account of gruesome historical events steered by an intrepid young woman. The setting seems to include almost exclusively White people, including the main characters.

Slightly educational, mostly fun. (author's note) (Historical thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-911-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A purple page turner.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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