An aspiring journalist investigates the urban legend surrounding mysterious disappearances of students at her school.

After losing out on an internship to fellow classmate Emma Morgan, high school senior Kennedy Carter looks for the next great exposé that will earn her the New England regional Excellence in Emerging Journalism Award. She dreams of getting out of her little Massachusetts town and becoming an investigative reporter. For their final project in journalism class, Kennedy and her best friend, school photographer Ravi Burman, decide to profile members of their school community and probe the curse haunting Maplefield High. Kennedy begins by researching students who disappeared in recent years—but everything takes a turn for the worse when Emma goes missing and is later found dead, supposedly by suicide. Certain that Emma was murdered, Kennedy and Ravi risk everything to uncover the truth behind the curse threatening Maplefield students, a truth which is contained in the anonymously authored side story, “The Making of a Monster,” that is interspersed throughout the novel. Kennedy’s self-righteousness is tempered by Ravi’s levelheaded understanding, but asexual Kennedy fears their budding romance could ruin years of friendship. This mystery in the vein of Holly Jackson's A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (2020) is well paced, but the resolution may strike readers knowledgeable about mystery conventions as not playing fair. Most characters are cued as White; pansexual Ravi’s mother is White, and his father is cued as a British immigrant of Indian descent.

Sufficiently thrilling. (Mystery. 13-17)

Pub Date: June 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64397-219-0

Page Count: 228

Publisher: BHC Press

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Comfortingly familiar page-turning suspense.


A Tahoe blizzard is the setting of Parrack’s debut.

Seventeen-year-old Lottie, a White English girl who’s been repeatedly let down by her flighty Mum, isn’t happy about spending the night alone in a remote cabin with her quiet, nature-loving new stepsister, 15-year-old Black American Jade, while their parents go on their honeymoon. They’ve only met three times before and haven’t exactly clicked. Then again, it’s only one night. How bad could it be? Then the power goes out and the stranger arrives. Alex, described generically as Asian, is tall and charming and claims to have lost his way—he’s just a boy walking his dog. However, his story is full of holes, and before long Lottie suspects he’s hiding something. Just as she confronts him, a fire breaks out in the cabin, and Lottie, Jade, and Alex are forced out into the cold and snow with only each other to rely on; one night on their own turns into a dayslong struggle for survival. It’s unfortunate that encounters with a bear, a mountain lion, and an avalanche are nothing compared to the human threat stalking them through the wild white wilderness. Lottie’s first-person narration is generic, but the action is fast-paced, with just enough romantic tension between Lottie and Alex to keep it interesting, while the tentative nature of Lottie and Jade’s new sister relationship fades quickly as they learn to rely on and appreciate each other.

Comfortingly familiar page-turning suspense. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-676-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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