Promising, but loses its grip.

THE DARK LIGHT

An imaginative fantasy begins with real potential but suffers from a heroine who’s a bit too flawed.

This adventure/romance provides thrills and intrigue, starting off solidly with Mia attracted to Sol, the mysterious, hunky new student with a fabulous eagle tattoo that covers his entire back. Mia realizes that the strange lights she’s seen around her rural town are connected to the disappearances of boys from the area. When her brother also disappears, Mia runs to save him but loses the necklace her mother had left her. Surreptitiously investigating Sol, she discovers that he has it. Caught, she runs from him until both are swept up into the Other Side, a video-game fantasy-style world existing in the empty spaces of our own. Mia drops her necklace yet again, only to learn that it can open the barrier between the two worlds and that the evil Suzerain, if he gets it, will use it to destroy our side. The story works well until the supposedly intelligent Mia begins causing much, if not most, of the story’s suspense by immediately doing what she has been warned not to do—which ultimately ends up driving the narrative. Those who can overlook Mia’s irritating conduct will enjoy her dangerous adventures and standard-issue budding romance with the increasingly magical Sol as they try to retrieve the necklace, rescue Mia’s brother, fight demons and learn more about Mia’s past. More focus on the intriguing fantasy world and less on Mia’s failings would help.

Promising, but loses its grip. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3455-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre.

THE BEAUTIFUL

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 1

Forbidden love is tested by suspicion and murder in this latest addition to YA vampire lore.

Celine Rousseau, a French and Asian (mother’s exact origins unknown) seamstress, sails from Europe to America in hopes of leaving her shadowy past behind. En route, she bonds with Pippa, a white English émigrée, and both girls find refuge in an Ursuline convent. Celine’s talent as a couturier leads to a commission from Odette, a beautiful member of the opulent-yet-mysterious Cour des Lions, where students of the occult practice their craft unmolested. Before long, Celine is swept up in a world of mystical forces centering around Sébastien Saint Germain, an enigmatic aristocrat to whom she is irresistibly attracted. When a fellow convent member is found murdered, Celine suspects all her acquaintances, including Sébastien. The novel, wading into the waters of forbidden romance between teenage girl and hunky immortal vampire previously navigated by Buffy Summers and Bella Swan, feels less magical than it should despite the lush Victorian-era New Orleans setting. At times the mounting attraction between Bastien and Celine is told rather than shown, which makes the central relationship feel forced rather than organic and passion filled. Ahdieh (Smoke in the Sun, 2018, etc.) brings New Orleans vibrantly to life, particularly when exploring the complicated racial and gender restrictions of high society through main and supporting characters of mixed-race origin.

Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3817-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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