A lovely, suspenseful, lyrical, imperfect paranormal mystery.

READ REVIEW

A TASTE FOR MONSTERS

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 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Even those who loved the first book might find too little logic in this conclusion

THE PACK

A group of shape-shifting runaways from the circus, on the run from genocidal hunters, tries to find a home.

Flo, her boyfriend, Jett, and the other shifters just want to find a strong pack to join. The teenagers (all either white or with no identified race) can all shift into an animal form: bears or tigers, parrots or rats, elephants or horses. The frightened escapees, who’ve lost many of their loved ones to hunters, have been seeking some safe place in the woods. The members of this huge cast (with too many names and animal forms to keep track of) have a wide array of agendas. Should they join the wild pack? The wolf pack? Should they even stay together? After brief dramas, many of these newly introduced characters vanish, never to be heard from again. Finally, Flo and the shifters are captured by hunters, who are in league with the lion who used to run their circus, who’d been betraying them for years and who now seeks to strike a bargain. Further dramatic revelations and betrayals await, of course. There’s no attempt to summarize the events of The Wanderers (2015), and with so many characters, side quests, and double crosses, it’s often difficult to keep track.

Even those who loved the first book might find too little logic in this conclusion . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1218-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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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