Another fire-and-brimstone end sets up a third outing; fans will be slavering for it

SPECIAL DEAD

Just because Ani is a zombie doesn’t mean she’s not entitled to a free and appropriate education, right?

A little over a year after the Prompocalypse that left 26 dead and 10—eight students and two teacher chaperones—infected with the Chinese weaponized zombie virus that wiped out Los Angeles, the kids are going back to school. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Banerjee and Ani’s mom, Dr. Romero, they’ve been kept successfully undead, and as long as the courts are undecided as to their humanity, their old school has to educate them. Kind of. They are segregated in a “Special Dead” classroom, must wear helmets and mouth guards, and are allowed only crayons to write with. A flamethrower-armed guard is on duty at all times to turn any suddenly violent zombie into a heap of ash. Freivald follows up his successful debut, Twice Shy (2012), with an equally enjoyable sequel. He populates the Special Dead classroom with a terrific mix of personalities, including both high achievers and kids in genuine need of special ed. That one of these is Mike, Ani’s crush from the first book whose brain she partially ate, triggering the Prompocalypse, is especially poignant. As in the first book, dark humor balances deftly with out-and-out horror, the mundane realities of undeath providing ample opportunity for both.

Another fire-and-brimstone end sets up a third outing; fans will be slavering for it . (Horror. 14 & up)

Pub Date: July 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-936564-80-4

Page Count: 260

Publisher: JournalStone

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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