An excellent end to an uneven but enjoyable series.

THE SACRIFICE OF SUNSHINE GIRL

From the Sunshine Girl series , Vol. 3

Sunshine Griffith faces down her destiny.

The Sunshine Girl trilogy concludes as the title character returns from training and prepares to battle the deadly superdemon, Dubu. Surrounded by her biological, luiseach parents, Aidan and Helena, her boyfriend, Nolan, her adoptive, human mom, Kat, her childhood, human best friend, Ashley, and a fellow luiseach, Lucio—all evidently white with the exception of Latino Lucio—Sunshine is filled in on prophecies, hidden histories, and last-minute skill sets. The promising series stumbled in its second installment by wedging Sunshine into a poor “chosen one” narrative. But now Sunshine is back on her home turf and ready to slay some demons. The author embraces the campy, gothic roots that inspired the series, offering sordid romantic histories, a mysterious luiseach council, and eleventh-hour betrayals. Sunshine is admirably strong, observant, and self-reliant. She may have lots of backup, but at the end of the day she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. The only storyline that’s a whiff is Sunshine’s relationship with Nolan. There’s very little heat to this romance. Sunshine’s relationship with Aidan and Helena is much more interesting, crackling with conflict and character. The spooky set pieces remain excellent, and the author’s handle on action has improved over the three books. The first installment remains the best, but this is a fine way to end Sunshine’s story.

An excellent end to an uneven but enjoyable series. (Paranormal suspense. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60286-298-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Weinstein Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

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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