Skin-tingling, blood-curdling horror perfect for reading by firelight.

All Alva Douglas wants is to survive long enough to escape her Scottish Highland home.

Seven years ago, Da killed Mam. Since that time Alva has lived by a set of rules she created to protect herself. Now, the day when she can secretly escape her small village draws closer; soon she’ll be safely away from her father and the scornful locals. Unfortunately, fate has other plans for the 16-year-old. Human greed is causing the loch levels to lower at an astonishing rate, setting free the òlanfhuil, terrifying, ancient creatures who have been hidden away for centuries. Alva has always known that her father is the Naomhfhuil, or caretaker of the loch. When his crime is finally exposed and Da is at last arrested for Mam’s murder, Alva reluctantly steps into his role, fulfilling the Naomhfhuil’s true purpose: to protect the village from the bloodthirsty òlanfhuil. Narrator Alva is a hero readers will get behind: She is a decisive, take-charge fighter who presses on when she discovers that everything she believed is a lie. The book takes place in an unnamed bygone era, and rich descriptions imbue both the setting and action with cinematic intensity. The characters, especially the almost impossible-to-kill òlanfhuil, who are described in nightmarish detail, come alive on the page. The only thing missing is a Highland bagpipes soundtrack. Assume Whiteness for all characters.

Skin-tingling, blood-curdling horror perfect for reading by firelight. (Horror. 14-17)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-68130-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020


From the Final Six series , Vol. 1

The shelves are already crowded with teens-training-for-space stories; there’s no need to make room for this one.

Teens become astronauts in record time for an inaugural space mission.

After losing his family to “the greatest flood Rome has ever known,” skilled white Italian swimmer Leo Danieli would never have expected that in his darkest moment he would be drafted by the European Space Agency to attend the International Space Training Camp, where teens will train to terraform and colonize Jupiter’s moon Europa for human settlement. California native Naomi Ardalan, a second-generation Iranian-American, has also been chosen for her expertise in science and technology. During a period of violent climate change worldwide, Earth’s governments are desperate to draft teens for a space mission for which they have only a few weeks in which to prepare. Twenty-four teen finalists, many orphaned by cataclysmic natural disasters, have been chosen from all over the world to compete for this space colonization mission. Warnings come to Leo and Naomi that there is a more sinister aspect to this mission, especially after things go tragically awry with other candidates during the training. The relationship that develops between Naomi and Leo feels forced, as if their meeting necessitates speedy deployment of a romantic cliché. The use of predictable plot devices, along with the fundamentally ludicrous premise, undermines any believability that would make a reader invest in such an elaborate space journey.

The shelves are already crowded with teens-training-for-space stories; there’s no need to make room for this one. (Science fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265894-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017


From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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