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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Moving imagery is muddied by disjointed character representation in a novel that feels overcrowded.

ANGEL THIEVES

A Texas bayou holds memories and secrets, weaving together people and animals through connected histories.

Buffalo Bayou takes her place as part of an ensemble cast that spans nearly two centuries. Sixteen-year-old Cade Curtis is a white boy who works alongside his father stealing angel statues from cemeteries for an antiques dealer, and Soleil Broussard is a 16-year-old Creole Christian with a tiny honey bear jar tattooed on her wrist. The two attend school together in present-day Houston, Texas, but the story intertwines their connection with stories of slaves and an ocelot in a narrative that runs away like the rushing of a river. Texas is a gorgeous backdrop for the story, eliciting haunting imagery that spotlights the natural beauty of the state. Each character helps piece together a quilt of experiences that stream from the omnipresent bayou who sees, hears, and protects, and the revelations of their overlapping connections are well-paced throughout. The novel is less successful, however, at underscoring why there are so many voices battling for space in the text. Too-short vignettes that are rather haphazardly forced together provide glimpses into the lives of the characters but make it difficult to follow all of the threads. While an author’s note offers historical background explaining the inspiration for the characters, it does not provide sufficient cohesion.

Moving imagery is muddied by disjointed character representation in a novel that feels overcrowded. (author’s note) (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2109-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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