A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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A bridge between paranormals and boys' realism about thugs and delinquents, reminiscent of Neal Shusterman's Dark Fusion:...

BLOODBORN

AN OTHER NOVEL

From the Other series , Vol. 2

How many metaphors can one werewolf embody?

In the case of incipient teen wolf Brock, it's an easy two. His lycanthropy, held temporarily at bay by medication, makes his facial hair grow "so much faster than it did before," keeps him hungry although he just "had two roast beef sandwiches and an apple turnover shake" and forces him to fantasize about his ex-girlfriend, Cyn, who "drives [him] wild." In other words, he's a teenage boy. Meanwhile, parallels are continually drawn between the racism practiced against werewolves and humans; the same sheriff who tells a werewolf mother, "I should put a bullet in your brain right now and spare myself the paperwork," begins the novel by pulling Cyn over for Driving While Latina. Amid all this metaphor, there manages to be plot—Brock, previously vilely racist against Others, now has to come to terms with his new identity while fleeing the bigoted lawman. Despite Brock's infantile behavior, the werewolf pack feels responsibility for having turned him (though the original bite was an act of self-defense). Unless he can overcome his own self-loathing and guilt, Brock will wind up dead, maybe bringing Cyn with him.

 A bridge between paranormals and boys' realism about thugs and delinquents, reminiscent of Neal Shusterman's Dark Fusion: Red Rider's Hood (2005) . (Paranormal. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7387-1920-7

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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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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