A TASTE FOR MONSTERS

A lovely, suspenseful, lyrical, imperfect paranormal mystery.

A down-on-her-luck white girl with facial scars seeks safety (both physical and metaphysical) in a story framed by two unrelated true events that occurred in 1888: the Jack the Ripper murders and the decline of Joseph Merrick, known as the Elephant Man.

Evelyn Fallow knows a degrading death is the best she can hope for if she can't escape "the godforsaken East End." A stint working in a match factory with its poisonous fumes left her with only a partial jaw: the deadly phosphorus necrosis would have killed her without surgery. Evelyn's offered a place as a maid for Mr. Merrick. She considers herself unacceptably ugly, but her repulsion at her client's features is extreme, and initially she stays only because the alternative is grinding poverty in the streets. Nonetheless, Mr. Merrick, a white man with an unknown disease, is fundamentally an extremely good person, and Evelyn's quality of life is high—or it would be, if she and Mr. Merrick weren't tormented by ghosts, hauntings that increase as London's serial killings worsen. Luscious period-appropriate prose adds flavor: “Somehow, the serenity of his syncope rendered his features less monstrous." Unfortunately, the trope in which a profoundly disabled character for whom death might be “a kind of mercy” acts as a lesson for a character, in this case Evelyn, with presumably more to live for is a stale one.

A lovely, suspenseful, lyrical, imperfect paranormal mystery. (Historical paranormal. 13-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-81784-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

STARCROSSED

Teens who have outgrown Percy Jackson and moved into the paranormal-romance phase won't mind the amateurish prose; they'll...

What if Bella Swan were a demigod?

Helen is the loveliest girl on Nantucket, but until the sexy Delos family comes to the island, she's always tried to stay under the radar. It's not just her looks that attract attention; Helen knows her strength, speed and hearing all approach superpower levels. But she can't stay hidden in the presence of the Delos cousins, Jason, Hector, Cassandra, Ariadne and the sexiest one, Lucas—yes, Lucas. (Some complicated handwaving explains why he is named Lucas instead of—as was intended—Paris.) Readers trained on trendy Greek mythological fantasy won't be surprised to learn both Helen and the newcomers are demigods. In their blonde beauty (really!), they look exactly like their quasi-mythological ancestors and are cursed by the Furies and the gods to replay ancient dramas across history. Lucas and Helen are both drawn together and forced apart by fate and desire. The cousins, meanwhile, help Helen develop her powerful demigod abilities while tutoring her on the massive forces arrayed against her. Though weirdly inconsistent perspective, startling shifts of voice and scenes that feel like they've been copied almost directly from Twilight break the flow, the drama's epic scale complements the love story's pacing. A refreshingly strong heroine carries readers into the setup for book two.

Teens who have outgrown Percy Jackson and moved into the paranormal-romance phase won't mind the amateurish prose; they'll be caught up in the we-must-we-can't sexual tension. (Paranormal romance. 13-15)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-201199-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

SIREN'S STORM

Seventeen-year-old Will is a local in Walfang; Gretchen is "summer people," but she's Will's best friend anyway. They used...

A dreamy, hair-raising mystery in a Long Island fishing village–cum–upscale resort evokes the traditional horrors of coastal communities.

Seventeen-year-old Will is a local in Walfang; Gretchen is "summer people," but she's Will's best friend anyway. They used to be three musketeers, along with Will's brother Tim, until a year ago when Tim died in a boating accident that should have killed both boys. Now Will and Gretchen try to renew their friendship in one of the creepiest summers either can remember. Will is drawn to Asia, a beautiful stranger with "green sea glass eyes." Gretchen worries about the local mad teenager who babbles portents about “seekriegers” and sings sea shanties. A 400-year-old gold doubloon turns up in a donation box, and an antique bone recorder—the spitting image of one found on Tim's body—appears in the local antique shop. Most frightening of all, Gretchen's sleepwalking, always worrying, has gotten downright dangerous. The more Will investigates, the more he sees connections with generations-old local mysteries—and possibly, incomprehensibly, stories far older than that. Walfang is exquisitely realized (occasionally too much so; narrative flow sometimes takes a backseat to painting Walfang with not-always-necessary detail); characters are defined as much by their place in society as by their behavior.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-84245-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

Close Quickview