An inventive novel for readers who enjoy slightly macabre and unabashedly romantic tales.

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KEEPER OF THE BEES

Kassel (Blackbird of the Gallows, 2017, etc.) expands on the world of harbingers, beekeepers, and Strawmen in this paranormal romance sequel.

A young-looking man named Dresden is the victim of an ancient curse. Hundreds of years ago, sorcerers transformed him into an immortal weapon. His insides crawl with bees, and their sting can turn the darkness in a person’s mind into full-blown psychosis. His appearance ceaselessly shifts to display the faces of the people whom he’s killed. He’s compelled to wander the world in pursuit of victims, and he accomplishes this mission by following “harbingers of death”—shape-shifting humans who are attracted to the sites of impending tragedy. This dreary routine leads him to Essie Roane, a 17-year-old girl who struggles with a curse of her own. But Dresden surprises himself by sparing her—even though she’s someone whom the bees want him to target. This anomaly draws the attention of a Strawman, a creature of immense power and opaque motivations. Against his instincts, Dresden finds himself fighting to protect Essie from a tragic event that the harbingers sense, the attentions of the Strawman, and the ill will of another ominous stranger—all while struggling with feelings that he thought had died long ago. Meanwhile, Essie suffers from vivid hallucinations that doctors can’t diagnose; however, she finds Dresden to be uncommonly comforting. Kassel starts with a grim premise and isn’t afraid to take the story to some very dark places, requiring more morbid fascination from her readers than most paranormal YA stories do. The main characters deal with fantastic circumstances that set them far apart from most teenagers, creating opportunities for offbeat but realistic characterization. The supporting cast also provides some wonderful texture, such as Dresden’s begrudging friendship with a lighthearted harbinger and Essie’s compassionate relationship with her Aunt Bel as they navigate Essie’s illness together. The events of the previous book are eventually drawn into the fold of this narrative, but this latest story can easily be read as a stand-alone.

An inventive novel for readers who enjoy slightly macabre and unabashedly romantic tales.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64063-408-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

MALICE

This YA SF novel features a teen who must halt a virus that will kill two-thirds of humanity.

In Silver Oak, Maryland, Alice Sherman is a high school junior enjoying lunch near her campus basketball court. With her is Archie, her brother, a senior and science prodigy who likes equations more than his fellow students. Alice has been Archie’s one true friend since their mother left six years ago. Alice is about to catch up with Lalana Bunyasarn, her best friend, when a sudden “streak of electricity zaps through” her head. The agony intensifies until a Voice enters Alice’s mind, asking her, “Do you want this pain to stop?” The Voice then instructs her to go up to Bandit Sakda, a classmate playing basketball, and say that she loves him. Bandit is a beautiful Thai boy who’s talented and arrogant. Strangely, the Voice calls her Malice and says not to fall for him because “it’ll only make what you have to do later harder.” Eventually, Alice learns that the Voice belongs to someone from 10 years in the future who needs help saving humanity. A virus will be created by a person Alice knows that will wipe out two-thirds of the world population. Following the Voice’s directions can save everyone—except the person Alice is ordered to kill. Dunn’s (Star-Crossed, 2018, etc.) latest YA adventure offers increasingly tantalizing twists that gleam in succession like nested matryoshka dolls. Alice will charm readers with her quirks, especially her devotion to Chris Hemsworth of Marvel’s Avengers films. Tension builds as characters in the large cast, including crushworthy Zeke Cain and the brilliant Cristela Ruiz, become potential targets for Alice’s mission. Details about Thai culture add a splendid dimension to the narrative; for example, Bandit is pronounced “bun-dit” and means “one who is wise.” While the notion of a high school killer may not sit well with some, the author doesn’t use the device lightly. Her book takes a strong anti-bullying stance, doing so through an entertaining narrative that doesn’t resort to preaching. The author’s heart and craftiness make a sequel welcome.

Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-412-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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