Teen angst soars as Johnson delightfully conjures up more nefarious deeds from the mountain mist.

THE VANISHING STAIR

From the Truly Devious series , Vol. 2

Murder and mayhem return to Ellingham Academy.

This sequel to Truly Devious (2018), an engrossing mystery set at an exclusive prep school in the mountains of Vermont, ramps up the intrigue as teen sleuth Stevie Bell continues to probe Ellingham’s troubled past and present. At the end of Volume 1, Stevie’s parents, having gotten wind that following the supposedly accidental death of one student, another had gone missing, yanked her out of Ellingham and brought her home to Pittsburgh. Now Stevie gets to return to Ellingham thanks to the intercession of the “worst man in America,” scheming, nationalistic Pennsylvania senator Edward King, for whom Stevie’s parents work. King asks Stevie to keep an eye on his rebellious son, David, who’s also her love interest. Once back, Stevie continues to investigate both the present-day death of housemate Hayes Major and the uncanny disappearance of Element “Ellie” Walker as well as the 1936 Ellingham kidnapping and murders. As before, Johnson deftly alternates between Stevie’s first-person narrative, as her investigations yield new insights and dangers for her mostly white, serviceably diverse set of misfit-genius classmates, and historical flashbacks involving the original Ellingham mysteries. Throughout this volume, Johnson’s compelling would-be Sherlock proves to be as bad at personal relationships as she is adept at solving mysteries.

Teen angst soars as Johnson delightfully conjures up more nefarious deeds from the mountain mist. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-233808-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

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SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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