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A chilling, bloody ghost story that resonates.

A Japanese ghost tries to fight an evil spirit that haunts a 15-year-old boy in this strange, Stephen King–like horror story.

Okiku was brutally murdered 300 years ago at age 16 and has roamed the world ever since, killing child murderers. Murderers unwittingly carry the ghosts of those they have killed on their backs, making them easy for Okiku to spot. She’s chasing down a particularly nasty serial killer when she encounters Tarquin, the son of an American man and a Japanese woman. Now institutionalized, Tarquin’s mother inscribed strange tattoos on the boy, which act as seals to imprison the evil ghost inside him. The family travels to Japan after Tarquin’s captive spirit horribly murders his mother so they can scatter the dead woman’s ashes at a shrine. There, they meet some women who can try to free Tarquin from his spirit tormentor, but exorcisms aren’t easy. Chupeco bases her modern horror story on an old Japanese folk tale about a vengeful spirit named Okiku. She writes in Okiku’s formal, ghostly voice, requiring readers to piece together strange episodes that introduce not only Okiku, but also Tarquin and his family, only slowly revealing the severity of the danger Tarquin faces. They come together eventually to reveal the full story and, with their opacity, contribute to the book’s slowly mounting suspense.

A chilling, bloody ghost story that resonates. (Paranormal suspense. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-9218-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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A descriptive and atmospheric paranormal social thriller that could be a bit tighter.

After a Nigerian British girl goes off to an exclusive boarding school that seems to prey on less-privileged students, she discovers there might be some truth behind an urban legend.

Ife Adebola joins the Urban Achievers scholarship program at pricey, high-pressure Nithercott School, arriving shortly after a student called Leon mysteriously disappeared. Gossip says he’s a victim of the glowing-eyed Changing Man who targets the lonely, leaving them changed. Ife doesn’t believe in the myth, but amid the stresses of Nithercott’s competitive, privileged, majority-white environment, where she is constantly reminded of her state school background, she does miss her friends and family. When Malika, a fellow Black scholarship student, disappears and then returns, acting strangely devoid of personality, Ife worries the Changing Man is real—and that she’s next. Ife joins forces with classmate Bijal and Benny, Leon’s younger brother, to uncover the truth about who the Changing Man is and what he wants. Culminating in a detailed, gory, and extended climactic battle, this verbose thriller tempts readers with a nefarious mystery involving racial and class-based violence but never quite lives up to its potential and peters out thematically by its explosive finale. However, this debut offers highly visually evocative and eerie descriptions of characters and events and will appeal to fans of creature horror, social commentary, and dark academia.

A descriptive and atmospheric paranormal social thriller that could be a bit tighter. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781250868138

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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An affecting supernatural mystery with a pair of brave protagonists.

The disappearance of a child unveils what lies hiding in the woods at the edge of a small town.

There are all sorts of stories about Picnic, Illinois, but it’s not until her toddler cousin, Madison, goes missing from her crib one night that 15-year-old Luce starts to believe them—and especially when she notices a pair of glowing, wolflike eyes through the windows of her house. To everybody’s relief, Madison is returned to her crib, seemingly safe and sound, soon after she vanished, but Luce and the child’s mother notice discomfiting differences in the 2-year-old. And yet, no one else seems to give credence to their concerns. Luce, prompted by a teacher, starts to research Picnic’s history and the many disappearances—and sudden reappearances—of baby girls, going back decades. Meanwhile, deep in the woods, Fanya, who narrates alternating chapters, tends to the baby girl and prepares for the ritual to welcome her as part of her pack when the full moon comes. As Luce’s and Fanya’s stories converge, so do past and present in Lund’s atmospheric novel. The story borrows elements from South Slavic lore about women who turn into animals to tell an affecting tale about small-town secrets, wronged people, and the bravery of two girls bent on getting to the truth in order to save lives. All characters are assumed White.

An affecting supernatural mystery with a pair of brave protagonists. (Paranormal thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35109-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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