Engaging but not without flaw.


A boy without a shadow falls for a 20th-century ghost girl in this supernatural graphic novel.

White, diminutive Greg has been angry and sullen ever since his mom, mayor of their small town, died three years ago. The current mayor’s son is a dark-skinned jock, a “professional buffoon and arrogant jerk extraordinaire,” and Greg is convinced that his dad’s new girlfriend (visually coded as Asian-American) is trying to take the place of his mom. But it’s the summer before 10th grade, and his white, curvy best friend, Layla, is ready for them to get up to some shenanigans at the local rumored-to-be-haunted house. No one has ever seen a ghost there—until shadowless Greg arrives and comes face to face with ghostly Eleanor, a white teenager who’s been dead for decades. They become instantly smitten. But someone—or something—is starting to wreak havoc on the town, and everyone believes it’s Greg. It’s up to Greg, Layla, and Eleanor to put a stop to it. While all questions are ultimately answered, many aspects of the worldbuilding go underexplored, leaving both the character development and the internal logic of the world feeling rushed. Espinosa’s grayscale art (tone is by Eckman-Lawn) has a storyboard softness that is reassuring and appealing. Both the intrusive narrator and adolescent characters are prone to disability insults (“Lame”; “Are you…blind?”), and the haunting gleefully and consciously piles up stale horror tropes, including an “Indian burial ground” (complete with totem pole; Greg points out in frustration that “Indians didn’t even have totem poles in the northeast!”).

Engaging but not without flaw. (Graphic supernatural fiction. 10-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59643-877-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


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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