While the book holds an appeal for adult readers of teen books, it might be hard-pressed to find fans in its target audience.

THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS

Shy, quiet, and content with the simple way of life in Rowan’s Glen—a back-to-the-land commune in the Missouri Ozarks— teen Ivy Templeton is the exact opposite of her cousin Heather, and Ivy resents the growing separation between herself and the girl she once called a sister and best friend.

When the Glen revives the May Day celebration after 20-plus years, Ivy, whose father is white and mother is Mexican, isn’t surprised when Heather is chosen to be the new May Queen. And some of the Glen’s elders are even less surprised when Heather vanishes after the celebration, which eerily echoes the disappearance and murder of the last May Queen. This present-day mystery is ripe with superstition and serves up an atmospheric, authentic-feeling setting, but it suffers in the characterization department. Too many of the villains have flat, uncomplicated motives, and teen readers might have difficulty relating to Ivy in particular. Her narrative voice doesn’t ring true, and her behavior is inconsistent: she is by turns a shy, stuttering girl and a swearing, blunt woman who is not bashful about sex and drug use. In the end, the book reads much more like an adult romance and/or mystery novel than a novel for teens.

While the book holds an appeal for adult readers of teen books, it might be hard-pressed to find fans in its target audience. (Mystery. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-64041-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this.

THE GRIMROSE GIRLS

From the Grimrose Girls series , Vol. 1

Four reimagined fairy-tale heroines must confront their inner demons to break a curse.

Ella, Yuki, and Rory attend the prestigious Grimrose Académie for Elite Students in the Swiss Alps. They are currently grieving the death of one of their best friends, and while Ari’s death by drowning has been deemed either an accident or suicide, her closest friends have their doubts. When they find an old book of fairy tales hidden in Ari’s things, full of strange annotations in her handwriting, the girls start working—along with new student Nani—to investigate Ari’s suspicious death. As they put together the pieces and discover other deaths that happened at Grimrose, they start to wonder if there was magic involved in Ari’s death—magic that may also be at the core of their very lives, cursing them to unhappy endings. Grief, identity, and friendship intersect in this enthralling mystery with dark magical undertones that ingeniously plays with fairy-tale tropes to tell a feminist story about empowerment and grappling with how to break away from the confines of societal expectations of girls. Reminiscent of the works of Anna-Marie McLemore and Elana K. Arnold, this book ends with the promise of more to come. The main cast is queer and features diversity in disability and mental health. Rory and Ella default to White; Yuki’s name cues her as Japanese, and Nani is Black and Native Hawaiian.

Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-887-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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