A strange and exceedingly creepy fever dream that doesn’t quite reach its potential

NEVER-CONTENTED THINGS

Two troubled foster siblings are drawn into a dark and twisted world where they’ll never have to be apart, but getting what they want comes at a terrible price.

The self-contained Ksenia Adderley, who is genderqueer, and 16-year-old free-spirited Josh Korensky, who is pansexual, are on their own while their foster parents, Mitch and Emma, are on vacation. Ksenia is almost 18, and their foster parents want to separate them and put a stop to a relationship they consider unhealthy. One night, the two come across a group of strange, feral teens who lead Josh into the shadows, where he disappears. Ksenia takes her own life soon after. But nothing is what is seems, and Josh and Ksenia now exist, together, in a place built on their emotions and the whims of otherworldly beings that seek to twist Ksenia’s and Josh’s pain to their will. Josh and Ksenia’s friend Lexi Holden is eventually drawn into their world and vows to help them escape. There is some clunky dialogue and the novel at times seems overlong, but Porter (Tentacle and Wing, 2017, etc.) weaves a tale that’s a bloody and imaginative horror/dark fantasy hybrid that explores obsessive love, self-determination, and loss. Unfortunately, that imagination only slightly makes up for a messy third act. Most characters are white except for Lexi, who is African American.

A strange and exceedingly creepy fever dream that doesn’t quite reach its potential . (Horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7653-9673-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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