Whiffs of the paranormal and Southern Gothic traditions imbue this mystery, and the ending has genuine emotional resonance...


From the Beware the Wild series , Vol. 1

A small Southern town harbors a haunted swamp that has the power to steal people and memories.

Sterling and her brother, Phin, are best friends. They survived their alcoholic father, and now—father gone, mother remarried—they remain close, although Sterling fears Phin’s imminent departure for college. When an argument results in Phin’s storming off into the avoid-at-all-costs swamp, Sterling worries. Then her sister comes traipsing home, and only Sterling knows that the sibling who stormed off was a brother; for everyone else, Lenora May has always been there. Sterling’s journey to recover Phin leads to adventure and new connections and leaves her face to face with the power at the heart of the swamp. Parker has a nice touch with the Southern flavor of Sterling’s Louisiana town, steeped in superstition and silence, still racist and old-boy governed (Sterling’s black stepfather is respected but clearly not accepted). Some details rise above: The mysterious Shine, Lenora May’s love for life and Sterling’s best friend Candy all leap off the page. Other details—geography, back story and especially second best friend Abigail—clearly exist for plot propulsion, but the mosquito hum of tension and the rising romance and danger all keep this afloat.

Whiffs of the paranormal and Southern Gothic traditions imbue this mystery, and the ending has genuine emotional resonance too: This engaging debut should enjoy a wide audience. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-224152-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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