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From the Immortals - Wilson series , Vol. 1

A flimsy story about vampires and chosen family.

Everything changes for Emma Hartfield after she dies, awakens as a vampire, and learns the dark history of her family.

Seventeen-year-old Emma, who was raised by her grandmother Flora, has always been a loner who has felt darkness inside her. After she’s attacked by a vampire, Emma suddenly has enhanced powers of perception and a craving for blood. Flora is oddly unsurprised by this turn of events but sets out with a promise to get more information about what’s going on. Then Cara, a different vampire, shows up and opens Emma’s eyes to the (literally) underground world of vampires and the ongoing struggle between the Immortals and the half-bloods. Emma starts developing real friendships with the vampires in the nest she joins, and they team up to rescue Flora, who has gone missing. But when the truth about her biological family comes to light, Emma will have to decide where her loyalties lie. The action-forward story combines tried-and-true vampire lore with some new twists. However, worldbuilding elements are often plopped into the story rather than being naturally woven in, and the descriptions feel too slight to make it fully engrossing. A romance subplot isn’t given enough time to be believably built up. Readers may relate to Emma’s questions surrounding family and belonging, but because so many characters are one-note, it’s hard to become truly invested. Emma is cued White; some racial diversity of secondary characters is implied.

A flimsy story about vampires and chosen family. (Paranormal. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 23, 2023

ISBN: 9781643973401

Page Count: 206

Publisher: BHC Press

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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A descriptive and atmospheric paranormal social thriller that could be a bit tighter.

After a Nigerian British girl goes off to an exclusive boarding school that seems to prey on less-privileged students, she discovers there might be some truth behind an urban legend.

Ife Adebola joins the Urban Achievers scholarship program at pricey, high-pressure Nithercott School, arriving shortly after a student called Leon mysteriously disappeared. Gossip says he’s a victim of the glowing-eyed Changing Man who targets the lonely, leaving them changed. Ife doesn’t believe in the myth, but amid the stresses of Nithercott’s competitive, privileged, majority-white environment, where she is constantly reminded of her state school background, she does miss her friends and family. When Malika, a fellow Black scholarship student, disappears and then returns, acting strangely devoid of personality, Ife worries the Changing Man is real—and that she’s next. Ife joins forces with classmate Bijal and Benny, Leon’s younger brother, to uncover the truth about who the Changing Man is and what he wants. Culminating in a detailed, gory, and extended climactic battle, this verbose thriller tempts readers with a nefarious mystery involving racial and class-based violence but never quite lives up to its potential and peters out thematically by its explosive finale. However, this debut offers highly visually evocative and eerie descriptions of characters and events and will appeal to fans of creature horror, social commentary, and dark academia.

A descriptive and atmospheric paranormal social thriller that could be a bit tighter. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781250868138

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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A fresh, generous, wide-ranging compendium of frights.

Spooky stories covering multiple subgenres, plus some added attractions.

Few horrific tropes or creepy conventions are overlooked in Duplessie’s debut. The stories are arranged into six sections: “Short Frights for Dark Nights,” “Anatomical Anomalies,” “Five Minutes in the Future,” “Be Careful Who You Trust,” “The Dark Web,” and “The Unearthly, the Ghoulish, and the Downright Monstrous.” Some of the best entries are grounded in familiar setups, but Duplessie is careful to avoid repetition. The stories’ relatively short lengths and the crisp, direct writing style make this volume inviting for even reluctant readers, but it doesn’t shy away from the truly terrifying and grotesque. That said, the grisliest events are often described with poetic elegance rather than gratuitous violence: “His face collapsed like an empty paper bag.” The stories frequently conclude with the suggestion of frights to come rather than graphic depictions. One ends with an overly curious girl getting sealed up in a brick wall. Another foreshadows the murderous power of a cellphone. Highlights include the eerie “The Reaping,” in which the prick of a rose’s thorn triggers a spate of bloodlust, and “Chamber of Horrors,” which features a murderous iron maiden. Each story ends with a bonus in the form of a QR code and instructions to “scan the code for a scare”—if readers dare. Short, eerie poems are peppered throughout; there are even a handful of riddles. Most characters read white; names cue some ethnic diversity.

A fresh, generous, wide-ranging compendium of frights. (Horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780063266483

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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