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An atmospheric, heady, ambiguous mystery.

A young man struggles with his demons against the backdrop of the Scandinavian death metal scene in this novel translated from Swedish.

Nineteen-year-old Kasper is the son of a legendary bassist whose first band, Dark Cruelty, achieved notoriety in the 1980s due to both its promise and the untimely and mysterious death of its charismatic lead singer, Grim. A short introduction from the point of view of Kasper’s loyal friend Iris, who is trans, sets the stage for this eerie, poignant, and winding story, as she struggles during the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown to find the words to begin writing. A sprawling, multiformat narrative follows, including third-person chapters from Kasper’s point of view, historical flashbacks, transcripts of band interviews, internet forum chats, and further brief interludes from Iris, whom Kasper meets while working at a theme park haunted house. The intricately described world of this very specific music scene will thrill fans and those with a penchant for exploring subcultures. Richly imagined characters populate this niche setting, and the novel’s deft lacing of unsettling paranormal flourishes drawing on myth and magic with accurate and heart-rending depictions of the experiences Kasper has with anxiety and depression provide balance. Ethnic diversity in some background characters reflects modern Sweden’s immigration history.

An atmospheric, heady, ambiguous mystery. (note on the Swedish school system) (Mystery. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 20, 2023

ISBN: 9781646900305

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Arctis Books

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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Unlikely to gain the author any new readers but will appeal to her fans.

Marley, who’s on the cusp of graduating from high school, looks forward to going to college in California, but first, she must endure senior prank week.

What began as a harmless tradition to annoy the hapless school principal has evolved into a more serious series of pranks and dares orchestrated by the five Wilder brothers: Everett, Emmett, Rhett, Garrett, and Truett. Rhett, who’s Marley’s former friend, is leading this year’s pranks and imposing severe consequences on non-participants. When their dare results in tragedy for a group of friends—Marley, Luce, Jesse, and Atlas (Marley’s boyfriend)—they make a pact to keep what happened a secret. Marley continues to be wracked with self-reproach, however, and paranoia and guilt begin to tear the teens’ friendships apart. It’s crucial for readers to approach the book with suspension of disbelief, because the characters sometimes act without clear motivation and at other times seem to understand who’s responsible for events based on very flimsy evidence. The dialogue also becomes repetitive at points. While this may not be Preston’s strongest work, her dedicated followers will find in it the suspenseful approach they love. Luce is cued Latine; Atlas reads Black, and the rest of the characters present white.

Unlikely to gain the author any new readers but will appeal to her fans. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593704066

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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