A compulsively readable and pleasantly different zombie tale, all the way to its pull-no-punches end

TWICE SHY

And you think your mom is weird.

A carrier of Zombie Virus since birth, Ani died two years ago. Since then, her mom—formerly a top ZV researcher, now Ani’s high school nurse—has kept her daughter’s body more or less intact and her brain-eating impulse largely in check, all the while feverishly working on a cure. With her mom’s encouragement but against her natural inclinations, Ani joins the emo crowd at school to justify her pale skin, decaying-body-concealing clothing and job at the gaming shop, whose incense helps to mask the ever-present scent of formaldehyde. Less an action-adventure than a study of this peculiar mother-daughter relationship, Freivald’s debut milks all humor inherent in the situation while avoiding none of the darkness. The juxtaposition of the aggressively normal against the completely bizarre—Ani and “Dr. Frankenmom” unpack the bananas before heading downstairs into the state-of-the-art lab for more serum testing—is just right. As junior year lurches along (just like Ani on her perpetually broken hip), Ani finds herself chafing against her mother’s restrictions and caught between two boys: the seriously unhinged emo Dylan, who is obsessed with death, and the utterly adorable jock Mike, a childhood friend whose psycho girlfriend targets Ani for bullying. If some plot twists and secondary characterization falter, Ani’s intelligent, ZV-enhanced snark never does.

A compulsively readable and pleasantly different zombie tale, all the way to its pull-no-punches end . (Horror. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-936564-50-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: JournalStone

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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A dark and enthralling journey.

VESPERTINE

In a land threatened by violent spirits, a girl with a haunted past unleashes an ancient entity from a holy relic and strikes a deal for the power to save her home.

Ever since the Sorrow, the dead no longer pass on peacefully. Without the intervention of the Clerisy of the Gray Lady, they roam as destructive spirits. Artemisia of Naimes, gifted with the ability to see the spirits, never intends to leave her convent, where the walls protect her from possession and (Lady forbid) social interaction. Her plans crumble when a group of possessed soldiers attack her home. Reluctantly, Artemisia unseals a legendary relic, binding herself to a revenant, an undead being with immense power. Untrained in controlling spirits and desperate to protect her home, she bargains with the revenant to help her. Amid escalating danger and an unfolding mystery, Rogerson unveils a grim and intriguing world with a rich, plot-relevant history inspired by late-medieval France. In addition to the White protagonist, the narration describes several secondary characters with brown skin; the revenant is identified as “it,” while human characters in this world adhere to a gender binary. Artemisia experiences dynamic character growth as her understandings of trauma, history, and morality shift. Although she remains socially avoidant, she learns to value friendship. A satisfying but open-ended resolution demands for the story to continue.

A dark and enthralling journey. (glossary) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7711-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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For fans of brooding bad boys and the pastel goth accidental necromancers who love them.

THE WHISPERING DARK

A deaf scholarship student at an occult university is plagued by ghosts.

Delaney Meyers-Petrov is so done with being treated like she’s fragile, but she’s not sure if she can hack it at Howe University, where the interdimensional travel program is mostly White, old-money kids who’ve been training for this their whole lives. Between the school’s lack of accommodations and her own internalized ableism, she is struggling, and her cochlear implant doesn’t help enough for her to keep up. Laney’s grateful for assistance from her (hot, muscular, rude) TA, Colton Price, but he hates her for some reason. Little does Laney know that Colton’s part of an occult boys’ club which plays with the boundary of death itself—a boundary Colton’s already crossed once. Laney, a girl with an extremely deliberate goth-adorable aesthetic, is well served by the purple prose (“the shadow-bitten arch of the doorway,” “suckling on the teat of decay”) and dialogue that wobbles between angst and snark in the style of teen paranormal television. Her unusual necromantic powers make her an irresistible target for the power players at Howe (where every figure with power and authority is male, and her peers and allies are all female), but at least Colton is sexy while he deceives and manipulates her. The worldbuilding is shaky but the romantic agita and ironic wit are present in spades. Most characters default to White.

For fans of brooding bad boys and the pastel goth accidental necromancers who love them. (Paranormal romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80947-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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