From the Sunshine Girl series , Vol. 3

An excellent end to an uneven but enjoyable series.

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. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017


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

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021


Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli.

For two teenagers, a small town’s annual cautionary ritual becomes both a life- and a death-changing experience.

On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs, Pennsylvania, gets a black shirt, the name and picture of a teen killed the previous year through reckless behavior—and the silent treatment from everyone in town. Like many of his classmates, shy, self-conscious Robbie “Worm” Tarnauer has been looking forward to Dead Wed as a day for cutting loose rather than sober reflection…until he finds himself talking to a strange girl or, as she would have it, “spectral maiden,” only he can see or touch. Becca Finch is as surprised and confused as Worm, only remembering losing control of her car on an icy slope that past Christmas Eve. But being (or having been, anyway) a more outgoing sort, she sees their encounter as a sign that she’s got a mission. What follows, in a long conversational ramble through town and beyond, is a day at once ordinary yet rich in discovery and self-discovery—not just for Worm, but for Becca too, with a climactic twist that leaves both ready, or readier, for whatever may come next. Spinelli shines at setting a tongue-in-cheek tone for a tale with serious underpinnings, and as in Stargirl (2000), readers will be swept into the relationship that develops between this adolescent odd couple. Characters follow a White default.

Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30667-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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