Far too self-consciously clever to be truly emotionally absorbing, this is nonetheless an enjoyable tribute for established...

UNSPOKEN

From the Lynburn Legacy series , Vol. 1

Sassy girl detective meets overwrought gothic romance, and it goes about as well as you'd expect.

Kami Glass knows that she could be a great reporter, if there were only something worth investigating in her sleepy Cotswolds village. But now the aristocratic, secretive Lynburns are coming home to their sinister ancestral mansion, and Kami is determined that her high school newspaper will get the scoop. Soon, two gorgeous, near-identical Lynburn cousins, princely Ash and bad-boy Jared, join her journalistic team—not to mention Kami's imaginary best friend since babyhood, who turns out to be not quite so imaginary after all. And that's when the grisly murders start….From the abandoned abbey to the veiled villain, no gothic trope is forgotten while creating the doom-drenched atmosphere. Unfortunately, when an admirably intrepid 21st-century heroine with supportive family and friends replaces the traditional isolated innocent, and when every character banters with the same witty genre-savvy repartee even under the direst of circumstances, any suspension of disbelief is stretched to the snapping point. The abrupt tonal shift at the climax, when the magic previously hinted at is revealed as both deadly and heartbreaking, makes the final cliffhanger even more devastating.    

Far too self-consciously clever to be truly emotionally absorbing, this is nonetheless an enjoyable tribute for established fans of the gothic, as well as an enticing introduction for new ones. (Fantasy. 11-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-87041-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike.

EVIL THING

A VILLAINS GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the Villains series

A chronicle of Cruella De Vil’s descent into Dalmatian destruction.

The only child of Lord and Lady De Vil, Cruella was enamored by high society life from a young age. She idolized her cold, demanding mother and loved her caring father, despite his giving her less extravagant gifts. Both parents wanted her to distinguish herself, though they intended very different meanings by that word. While young Cruella believed that servants and others from less privileged backgrounds should know their places, Anita, her less socially lofty best friend, was an exception. But as she grew up and married, she had to face the question of what it really meant to possess wealth, beauty, and happiness. Framed as a memoir, this story vividly expresses Cruella’s personality. Valentino does a solid job of establishing the cast of characters, and fans of the animated film will enjoy connecting the threads. While there are moments of softness that evoke readers’ empathy, Cruella unapologetically wields her power to behave cruelly. She is ultimately fueled by her desperation for maternal validation, jealousy, delirium, and a perhaps-cursed pair of earrings. Jovellanos’ art deftly captures a range of emotions, specifically in showing how Cruella’s face is transformed in response to her whims. Using a color palette of muted reds, blacks, grays, and whites, the illustrations express a fitting tone for a Cruella tell-all. Characters read as White.

Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike. (Graphic fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06816-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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