Bizarre and hugely suspenseful.

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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