A very good Fear Street book, with all that that implies.

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YOU MAY NOW KILL THE BRIDE

From the Return to Fear Street series , Vol. 1

The enduring franchise relaunches with yet another No.1.

Fear Street was never quite the brand Goosebumps was; grittier and bloodier than the latter’s Twilight Zone–esque stories. This offering hopes to leverage that grit, and it leans heavily on terror tropes of old, particularly evoking Stephen King. Of course, this is what Stine (Mary McScary, 2017, etc.) has always been best at: tossing current trends, personal fears, and literary legacies into a blender and delighting in the result. Readers will delight too. Ruth-Ann and Rebecca Fear are two affluent sisters in the 1920s, squabbling for love and control of their futures. In the present, Harmony and Marissa Fear are fighting similar psychological warfare with mixed results. Witchcraft rears its head, and the Fear family curse spans time itself and locks these two pairs of white siblings in a peculiar, terrifying dance. The excitement is in the execution, and Stine hasn’t lost his ability to pull strings and make readers squirm, flipping pages as fast as possible in anticipation for the next bloodcurdling sight. The book’s ending is a bit muddled: The resolution is creatively exciting but doesn’t make much sense when considered for internal logic. But then, Stine’s work has never been about substantive thought. Stine is about mood, tingles, and blood. This title has got plenty of that.

A very good Fear Street book, with all that that implies. (Horror. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-269425-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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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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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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