Bizarre and hugely suspenseful.

A DROP OF NIGHT

Seventeen-year-old Anouk accepts an invitation to assist with an academic exploration of a 200-year old underground palace but instead finds herself trapped in an extensive and elaborate set of deadly underground rooms.

Anouk’s contemporary story intertwines with frequent flashbacks to the aristocratic family that built the underground palace at the time of the French Revolution. In that timeline, Aurélie and her sisters reluctantly descend to the recently completed palace when a mob of revolutionaries attacks their home in 1789. Now, Anouk and four other teens realize early that they’ve been recruited to a fraudulent project and that their captors intend to kill them. They race through the palace, each room adorned in almost carnival-like pre-Revolutionary décor and most equipped with devious devices meant to murder them. One room shoots razors, another metal globes, and another contains blue containers that spew deadly gas. But why were they targeted for this particularly baroque murder? Bachmann keeps the pages turning with this thriller that, for most of the book, appears to have no explanation. Although he develops Anouk quite well as a lonely character who has been estranged from her wealthy family, her friends remain one-dimensional. The peculiar circumstances add to the strange atmosphere and also to the suspense, lending the book an appealing, unworldly quality. When the explanation finally arrives, it fits quite well with the odd atmosphere.

Bizarre and hugely suspenseful. (Horror. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-228992-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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This fast-paced thriller will keep readers guessing.

THE FEAR

This perspective-jumping thriller shows you the two sides of fear.

Izzy has had a crush on Justin forever, but in her last year at Rock Bay High, will she be able to finally talk to him, or will the sudden violent death of a classmate put a wrench in the situation? After a meme daring everyone to repost how they are most afraid to die races through the teenage population, a student appears to have been killed exactly in the way she had feared. Izzy must race against time to find the killer, and with no shortage of suspects, everyone is under suspicion: her loner lab partner, Axel; his older cousin, Tristan; and even Justin, who has been acting strange. It becomes clear no one is safe from experiencing fear. This swift-moving slasher adventure proves to be a page-turning mystery. The book is written in the first-person perspective, allowing readers a deeper view into Izzy’s mind; whether she is thinking Axel is innocent or the killer, her stream of thought and persistent questioning give readers clues to help connect the dots before surprising them with clever plot twists at the end. Main characters read as White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast.

This fast-paced thriller will keep readers guessing. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-12501-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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