An emotionally honest, well-earned denouement brings this lively historical zombie trilogy to an honorable end

STRANGE AND EVER AFTER

From the Something Strange and Deadly series , Vol. 3

Eleanor Fitt, the Spirit-Hunters, her demon and her newly arrived frenemy from Philadelphia take to the skies in an airship in pursuit of the evil necromancer Marcus.

They head first to Marseille, where they hope to learn the secret location of the fabled, wealth-and-immortality–granting monster known as the Black Pullet and to rescue their friend Jie, under a compulsion spell and in the clutches of Marcus. From there, they speed on to Egypt in hopes of beating Marcus to the Black Pullet and putting an end to him once and for all. Readers of the series will not be surprised to find that the doughty heroes are beset by the Dead at nearly every turn; the Egyptian setting, at the height of the 19th-century invasion of Western archaeologists, makes especially fertile ground. (All those mummies!) Less satisfying is Eleanor’s constant struggle between the allure of her magic and the disapproval of everyone around her, including inventor love interest Daniel and, remarkably, her own demon, Oliver. Dissolute Oliver has easily become the most intriguing character in the series, with unplumbed depths, a deliciously snarky sense of humor and a singular sense of morality. Almost despite herself (it gets quite complicated there toward the end), Dennard wraps it all up with a satisfyingly apocalyptic conclusion.

An emotionally honest, well-earned denouement brings this lively historical zombie trilogy to an honorable end . (Paranormal historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-208332-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A zippy rom-com with strong characterization, bursting with Gen Z–approved verbal sparring and stolen kisses.

HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS AND UNFAIRLY CUTE

Two Black British ex–best friends tumble into an unexpected romance in this YA debut by noted romance author Hibbert.

On paper, Bradley Graeme and Celine Bangura are complete opposites. Brad is a handsome soccer player who can charm anyone in a five-mile radius. Celine is a fiercely guarded perfectionist who runs a popular conspiracy theory TikTok channel. After a major falling out nearly four years ago, the two avoid each other at all costs. When Celine learns that her hero, human rights lawyer Katharine Breakspeare, is running a program offering three full scholarships for incoming university students, she knows she has to apply—even if it requires two wilderness survival expeditions in English and Scottish forests. She also wants to prove a point to her estranged father, whose corporate law firm is a sponsor. For his part, Brad is eager to win a scholarship that would mean he wouldn’t have to take out loans after all. As their final year of school progresses, the 17-year-olds are thrown together as they attempt to conquer the Breakspeare course. Along the way, they regain mutual trust, reignite their long-simmering feelings, and discover their authentic selves. The pair’s relationship sparkles with tender moments and vulnerable revelations, balancing swoonworthy infatuation with sincere empathy. Brad, who is bisexual and has obsessive-compulsive disorder, helps Celine finally process the pain of her dad’s abandonment. (This review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

A zippy rom-com with strong characterization, bursting with Gen Z–approved verbal sparring and stolen kisses. (author’s note, glossary) (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-48233-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Joy Revolution

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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