USELESS BAY by M.J. Beaufrand


Age Range: 13 - 18
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On Whidbey Island, Washington, the Gray teens—tall, blond, white quintuplets—and one smart bloodhound specialize in search and rescue (missing toddlers, lost pets); this time, their neighbor and friend Grant Shepherd, 10, has disappeared, and complications ensue.

Money is tight for the quints and their single mom, year-round residents. Useless Bay is a weekend getaway for the wealthy, white Shepherds: Henry, Meredith, and their half brother, Grant, who live with their venture-capitalist dad, long divorced and remarried to Grant’s Russian mom. Henry Shepherd and Pixie Gray, who share a mutual attraction, narrate in alternating chapters. The youngest, shortest (at 6 feet 2 inches), and lone girl quint, Pixie’s long been haunted by the phantasm of the unsavory man, later murdered, who trained their bloodhound. This terrifying apparition (think Davy Jones of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) heralds catastrophe. The desperate hunt coincides with stormy weather that worsens as the body count rises. Macabre descriptions abound; the Pacific Northwest’s majestic land- and seascapes are limned with occasionally startling digestive and elimination imagery: ferries and ocean tides vomit up their contents; Deception Pass’ swirling waters are compared to toilet-bowl cleaner.

Though a few plot twists strain credulity, at its best this is a taut, suspenseful page-turner in which severed body parts, human and canine, fantastic and real, figure prominently—call it magical realism, horror division. (Magical realism/thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4197-2138-0
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Amulet/Abrams
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2016


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