A chilling, bloody ghost story that resonates.

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THE GIRL FROM THE WELL

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 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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A slow, hazy beginning eventually sharpens before charging into an electric, enchanting end.

A SONG BELOW WATER

Two young women literally and figuratively embody #BlackGirlMagic.

Sixteen and with deep brown skin, Tavia is a siren who uses American Sign Language to push against the mesmerizing call that burns like a fire in her throat and could mean being silenced forever if it is released. Plagued with mysterious body ailments and no knowledge of her biological heritage to inform a diagnosis, light-brown–skinned 16-year-old Effie, Tavia’s sister-by-choice, is haunted by survivor’s guilt after a traumatic childhood incident. Portland, Oregon, provides a memorable setting for Morrow’s solid and intentional unpacking of myths around black people and their aversion to water activities through their stories. Chapters alternating first-person narration between the two protagonists set up Tavia to often be the voice of social justice inquiry, especially regarding prejudice against sirens, who are always black women. Effie’s storyline focuses on a different type of identity exploration as she untangles her complicated family history. Lengthy exposition with confusing plot turns and a reveal of ethnically diverse magical beings and their powers slows the first part of the book. The action picks up toward the middle, rising to create an exciting new contemporary fantasy. In this parallel world, black female empowerment is standing up for yourself and others while simultaneously navigating love, physical and emotional violence, and the responsibility of immense supernatural power.

A slow, hazy beginning eventually sharpens before charging into an electric, enchanting end. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-31532-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Crackling with energy, just the ticket for an all-night read.

THIS SAVAGE SONG

Natural enemies find themselves reluctant allies in a war-torn, monstrous future.

Schwab’s latest seems poised to grab both her adult and teen readers; the world is fascinating (if sometimes a little thin—education and technology are almost exactly the same in this future), the characters complicated, and the political machinations and emotional depths both charged and compelling. The scene: an isolated supercity in former middle America, populated by the evil Corsai and Malchai and the more complicated Sunai, who can kill only those who have killed (and must do so regularly to maintain their semblance of humanity); all have been born from moments of violence. Against this, Kate Harker (fair-haired, partially deaf, inclined to arson and spying) returns to appease and impress her father, who controls the Malchai and half the city. Across town, Sunai August (seemingly 16, black haired and gray-eyed, a monster who tries to be human) wants his adoptive father’s side to succeed in creating a better world. Family and interpersonal dynamics, questions of good and evil, horrifying monsters (some of them human), and moments of violence both graphic and poetic serve as backdrop to a growing sense of kinship between Kate and August, who want a better world—but probably won’t get one, based on the zinger of an ending.

Crackling with energy, just the ticket for an all-night read. (Futuristic fantasy/horror. 15 & up)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238085-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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