Next book

THE SACRIFICE

A strong premise that does not deliver the expected punch.

A Hollywood TV crew descends upon Kisapmata, a cursed island in the Philippines, to film a show.

Even though the locals will not go there, the cast and crew remain greedily determined to make a blockbuster series focused on the Godseye, a haunted cave at the center of the island where murders have been documented. Reuben Hemslock, a pompous survivalist actor, leads the effort, doggedly bent on the presumed success it will bring to his reputation, which has been tainted by abuse accusations from a number of women. Also present are two executive producers (one with his teen son in tow) and an extensive crew who impose their infrastructure and their cultural chauvinism—“This island is almost perfect….Add a Panera and I’d be all set,”—on the deserted locale. Well, almost deserted. Alon, a local teen known as a “ghost whisperer,” cautiously agrees to be their tour guide in exchange for $10,000 to help his ailing father. Alon warns them that they should not be there, but the crew persists even as danger inevitably strikes. Chupeco creates an environment thick with mystery, full of haunting balete trees and eerie ghost sightings coupled with a legend that dates to Spanish colonization of the Philippines. However, the story remains frustratingly flat due to one-dimensional characterization; the story features deplorable adult characters and a forced chemistry between the two teens. Excepting Alon, all characters are presumed White; Alon is nonbinary.

A strong premise that does not deliver the expected punch. (Horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-591-0

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

Next book

THE CHANGING MAN

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

Next book

TO KILL A SHADOW

An atmospheric and promising first installment.

A series opener blending fantasy and horror with an undercurrent of romance.

The sudden disappearance 50 years ago of the Sun Goddess, Raina, left the realm of Asidia awash in moonlight and misery. The annual Calling drafts boys, such as 18-year-old Kiara’s sickly brother, Liam, into the Knights of Eternal Star, who then venture into the accursed land of the Mist in search of answers. But Kiara’s brazenness captures the attention of the Hand of Death, the Commander of the Knights, and she’s recruited in her brother’s stead. Years of rigorous combat training have prepared Kiara well for the Knights—but not for the growing attraction between her and the Hand of Death himself, enigmatic Commander Jude Maddox. As they journey into the Mist, they must trust each other in order to survive and untangle the legends that just might save the realm. In a crowded fantasy field, the novel distinguishes itself by leaning into the macabre nature of its literally dark world, complete with shadow beasts, flesh-eating spiders, and the mercurial Mist itself. The unrelenting action sequences are not for the squeamish, and the dead (and undead) body count piles up. Cutscenes provide necessary narrative magic, reviving Kiara and Jude’s romance and buttressing the worldbuilding lore that opens many of the chapters. Main characters are cued white.

An atmospheric and promising first installment. (map) (Fantasy/horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374318

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

Close Quickview