Passable escapist reading for witchcraft fans in search of something light. (Urban fantasy. 12-16)

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POLTERGEEKS

An eager teen witch discovers the supernatural world is more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Fifteen-year-old Julie and her best friend Marcus aren’t the most popular kids at their Calgary, Alberta, high school. He’s a skinny brainiac, and she’s a witch (though, of course, only Marcus knows that). When an elderly neighbor is sent flying out her front door by a poltergeist, Julie’s ready to investigate, but her overprotective mother (also a witch) urges caution. The attacks continue, and suddenly Julie’s mother is incapacitated. With the help of skeptical Marcus and an immortal spirit who claims to be her “tutelary,” Julie must use her powers to delve into her family’s past and find the ancient spirit she’s sure is responsible for her mother’s condition and the increasingly violent supernatural incidents around town. Canadian author Cummings' first for teens features some fizzy magic and an interesting supernatural world, but discerning readers will likely find the characters shallow and their motivations simplistic. Worldbuilding is problematic as well: If witches have always existed, it strains credulity that devastation of the magnitude described could be explained away over the centuries. A sequel is all but guaranteed; perhaps it will be an improvement.

Passable escapist reading for witchcraft fans in search of something light. (Urban fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-908844-101

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Strange Chemistry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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May well beguile readers with its mix of magic and political intrigue.

SHIELDED

From the Shielded series , Vol. 1

A princess fights to save her kingdom while trying to conceal her magic.

On the eve of her 17th birthday, Princess Jennesara learns of her betrothal to the prince of Turia, an alliance made by her father to secure the neighboring kingdom’s military support in quelling the fighting at his borders. Before she is sent away to safety in Turia, she learns of other worrying developments brewing at home: A burned letter references a search for the mages’ library, illicit magic is being used in skirmishes at the borders, and there is a potential betrayal within her father’s circle of trust. She frets, too, about her own secret magic being discovered, for only her older brother, Ren, is supposed to possess magic. On their way to Turia, Jenna’s party is ambushed and she narrowly escapes. She is forced to fend for herself and find her own way to Turia to discover who betrayed her family and what secrets lie in the rumored mages’ library. Jenna conceals her identity and ingratiates herself with her betrothed’s family as she eludes the threat of a shadowy, sinister foe. Though overflowing with common fantasy tropes and featuring lengthy expository passages, this series opener nevertheless features affable characters and moves at a solid clip that will keep readers entertained. Jenna’s people are fair-haired while Turians are olive-skinned with dark hair.

May well beguile readers with its mix of magic and political intrigue. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11853-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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