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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

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From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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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

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