Original but too sloppily executed for success.

BETWEEN THE WATER AND THE WOODS

Village girl encounters magic, heads to the big city, and meets a handsome knight and steam-carriages.

Sixteen-year-old Emeline lives in a village so small and remote that they don’t even use money, but when she and her brother spot an Ithin, a legendary Dark Creature, they, along with their widowed father, a neighbor, and a stowaway, head to the capital: The law requires they report the sighting to the king in person. Along the way they meet a Lash Knight and become embroiled in the philosophical and political feud between Sapients and Theurgists. Lovely illustrations from Kipin (The Language of Thorns, 2017) elevate this debut but don’t make up for the nonexistent plot (mostly conversation and sightseeing) or the haphazard worldbuilding. Technology ranges from nonexistent to programmable automata; silver is used for bullets and any number of other uses for which it’s likely too soft; magic runs in the Keldare people, but at the same time anyone can join the Keldare. Imagination is on full display, but multiple threads compete to be the central seam, to the detriment of narrative flow. Note that the art depicts Emeline as darker-skinned and love interest Reese lighter; the text focuses mostly on fashion and finance, not skin tone, although some variation is implied.

Original but too sloppily executed for success. (Fantasy. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4020-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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Without that frame, this would have been a fine addition to the wacked-out summer-camp subgenre.

I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS

Survival camp? How can you not have bad feelings about that?

Sixteen-year-old nerd (or geek, but not dork) Henry Lambert has no desire to go to Strongwoods Survival Camp. His father thinks it might help Henry man up and free him of some of his odd phobias. Randy, Henry’s best friend since kindergarten, is excited at the prospect of going thanks to the camp’s promotional YouTube video, so Henry relents. When they arrive at the shabby camp in the middle of nowhere and meet the possibly insane counselor (and only staff member), Max, Henry’s bad feelings multiply. Max tries to train his five campers with a combination of carrot and stick, but the boys are not athletes, let alone survivalists. When a trio of gangsters drops in on the camp Games to try to collect the debt owed by the owner, the boys suddenly have to put their skills to the test. Too bad they don’t have any—at all. Strand’s summer-camp farce is peopled with sarcastic losers who’re chatty and wry. It’s often funny, and the gags turn in unexpected directions and would do Saturday Night Live skits proud. However, the story’s flow is hampered by an unnecessary and completely unfunny frame that takes place during the premier of the movie the boys make of their experience. The repeated intrusions bring the narrative to a screeching halt.

Without that frame, this would have been a fine addition to the wacked-out summer-camp subgenre. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8455-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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