A powerful novel from an exciting new talent. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Ghosts, secrets, and magic collide in this Irish author's astonishing debut.

For as long as she can remember, 17-year-old Cara, her mother, and her 18-year-old sister, Alice, have dreaded the accident season. For a few weeks every autumn, horrible things happen in their family. "Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom." And sometimes people die, including Cara's father nine years ago. Since then she's gained a new ex-stepbrother, Sam (he stayed with them when his own father disappeared), and a new best friend, mystical Bea, somewhat callously, or so she thinks, abandoning Elsie, the friend who supported her during her childhood grief. Elsie still attends their school but has mysteriously gone missing. Only when they throw a Halloween party in a haunted house, inviting everyone they know to come as the people they are behind their everyday masks, do the secrets start to ignite. Elsie is worn out from trying to protect them all—and some of the accidents weren't accidental. Written in Cara’s voice, Fowley-Doyle's unflinching first-person narration conveys the impossible in prosaic, ordinary language that nonetheless sings: "I think of all the things our brains deny, all the memories they hide from us, all the secrets they keep." What emerges from the smokescreen is a moving portrait of a fractured family, knitting itself back together with courage and love.

A powerful novel from an exciting new talent. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42948-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kathy Dawson/Penguin

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015


There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013



From the Heartstopper series

Short and sweet.

When Charlie returns home from in-patient anorexia treatment in a psychiatric ward, he and his older sister, Tori, navigate a difficult Christmas with their family in this Heartstopper novella.

Tori thought her parents might learn to open up after Charlie started treatment, but they—especially Mum—still avoid discussing anything serious. Now that Charlie is home from the hospital, all Tori wants is to spend time with him, but the pressure of the holiday increases family tensions and threatens to drive Charlie away. Set during unexplored moments of Volume 4 of the Heartstopper graphic-novel series, this three-chapter novella zooms in on Christmas Day. Each chapter moves the story forward from a different perspective, shifting from Tori to Charlie to their 7-year-old brother, Oliver. Nick, Charlie’s boyfriend, makes an appearance as a source of comfort, but the conflict focuses on Charlie and his family. As Tori tries to support Charlie, she wrestles with guilt and loneliness. Meanwhile, Charlie and his mum, who both want a normal holiday, keep clashing. Although the story handles heavy themes of mental illness, Oseman balances the fraught emotions with tender moments and a hopeful but honest outlook on recovery that emphasizes the value of therapy. There will be greater emotional impact for those familiar with the original stories, but as a bonus entry, this novella has high appeal for devoted fans. Occasional illustrations add to the charm.

Short and sweet. (resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781338885132

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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