A mixed-bag sequel that misplaces what made its predecessor so special.

THE AWAKENING OF SUNSHINE GIRL

From the Sunshine Girl series , Vol. 2

Sunshine Griffith develops her paranormal powers under the watchful guidance of her estranged father in this sequel to The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (2015).

Only a few days have gone by since Sunshine met her birth father, Aidan. Sunshine hasn't told her adoptive mother, Kat, yet, and with good reason: Sunshine is a luiseach, a creature that looks human but actually spends its time communing with the dead and warding off evil spirits. Aidan believes Sunshine is a particularly special luiseach, one that can help unite her people under one banner and fight off a mysterious darkness. But first, she must be trained, and to do that, she must leave her adopted home behind. The chills and thrills found in this episode's predecessor have been switched out for mythology and worldbuilding, a different flavor that is frankly a bit of a letdown. The author is at her best when she exploits her premise for scares and bumps in the night, but she hamstrings herself hanging the spooky doings upon a “chosen one” narrative. A superfluous love triangle among Sunshine, her friend Nolan, and sexy new guy Lucio feels like nothing more than padding. Sunshine's back story involving a troubled mother is much more engaging than the romance subplot, as is her developing relationship with the father she believed to have abandoned her.

A mixed-bag sequel that misplaces what made its predecessor so special. (Paranormal suspense. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-60286-274-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Weinstein Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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