Few will make it to the monster’s first mention, nearly halfway through. (Horror. 9-12)

THE MURK

Is there a secret in the swamp that can cure all ills? Piper’s banking on it.

Piper Canfield wished for a baby sister when she learned her parents couldn’t have any more children. She promised to watch over the baby if it came. Miraculously, baby Grace arrived, and Piper has made good on her promise, but one lapse puts Grace in danger when a rabid wolverine threatens her in her bassinet while the family is camping. Grace is fine, but Piper blames her best friend, Tad, and freezes him out. She starts running with the popular, pretty crowd until baby Grace comes down with Alpers syndrome, a virtual death sentence…and Tad suggests they use his ancestor’s notes to search the Okefenokee Swamp for a fabled silver flower that cures all diseases. Piper, Tad, Monty (aka Creeper, Piper’s little brother) and swamp-boat driver Perch head out on what they think will be a one-day excursion, but the wildlife is attacking when it shouldn’t—and something deeper in the swamp is even more dangerous. Readers drawn in by the Goosebumps-like cover will quickly set aside Lettrick’s second animals-attack tale (Frenzy, 2014). The kid characters have an unfortunate tendency to speak like college professors, hampering their development significantly. Also hindering the story’s effectiveness are interspersed excerpts from Tad’s ancestor’s 19th-century diary, rendered in florid prose.

Few will make it to the monster’s first mention, nearly halfway through. (Horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8695-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A fully imagined world, a wider cast of engaging characters, and a satisfying resolution all help this sequel add up to an...

IN A DARK LAND

From the Changelings series , Vol. 2

Izzy and her friends must once again band together to overcome an evil plan.

Despite the revelation that she is a fairy—a changeling—Izzy decided to return home to her human family at the end of series opener The Changelings (2016). At summer camp with her human, white younger sister, Henrietta, known as Hen, Izzy still misses the magic of the Faerie world and the friends she made there. Summoned to assist in fighting a new danger, Izzy struggles to recapture her magical abilities while fighting familiar feelings of self-doubt. Hen, initially left behind, finds her way to Faerie to help and winds up playing a vital role. Soontornvat’s story unfolds smoothly, but readers unfamiliar with the first volume may struggle somewhat to follow the action. Intriguing new elements—most notably the underwater Fen Whelps who reveal a crucial detail to the two sisters—add interest. As in the first book, it’s an individual who threatens destruction and cooperation that carries the day. A strong connection to nature, the importance of recognizing and using one’s own talents for the greater good, and the importance of family connections, however they are forged, are elements that will enhance the appeal for thoughtful fantasy readers.

A fully imagined world, a wider cast of engaging characters, and a satisfying resolution all help this sequel add up to an enjoyable, if not stand-alone, read. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3421-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Delectable hints of age-appropriate, Lovecraftian Otherness…with none of the purple prose.

PROFESSOR GARGOYLE

From the Tales From Lovecraft Middle School series , Vol. 1

Can unnameable forces of ancient evil be recycled?

Eleven-year-old Robert Arthur has been redistricted. While his friends in Dunwich, Mass., attend Franklin Middle School, he has to attend Lovecraft Middle School. Lovecraft is brand new (though some fixtures and other building materials came from a demolished, possibly haunted local mansion), and everything in the school is state of the art, but Robert is totally alone…except for Glenn Torkells, who daily extorts a dweeb tax from Robert (just like he did all through elementary school). Strange occurrences start on day one, when every student finds a rat in their locker. A trip to the school library lands Robert in a strange, dusty attic, where he acquires a two-headed stowaway in his backpack. Pip and Squeak (the polycephalic rat) infuriates the science teacher, Professor Garfield Goyle, who turns out to be much more (scary) than he at first appears. Can Robert and his new friend Karina solve enough of the mysteries surrounding their school to survive? Gilman’s debut and series kick-off will be great fun for fans of light horror. The changing image on the cover will snag interest, and the spookily realistic black-and-white illustrations throughout complete this slick, scary, funny package.

Delectable hints of age-appropriate, Lovecraftian Otherness…with none of the purple prose. (Humorous horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59474-591-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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