Predictability and muddled language make this a mystery not worth solving.

READ REVIEW

I SPY SOMETHING WICKED

Mysteries and ghosts abound when Tessa Kelling is named heir to her late uncle’s remote estate.

Seventeen-year-old Tessa remembers being saved from falling out of a tree as a child by Andre, a strange, handsome man who disappears after introducing himself. Now, Andre becomes her ghostly roommate (and maybe something more) when Tessa inherits her uncle’s house and moves to Ama, Oklahoma. But the house is nothing like she imagined—in fact, it harbors secrets that Tessa’s uncle leaves her clues about and which lead to multiple break-ins peppered throughout the story, without much substance in between. The mystery plotline is introduced early on but then forgotten about until the end of the narrative, where it finally shows up to give readers a speedy and transparent climax. Tessa shows keen insight about what’s going on in her new house and is the most well-developed character; the rest of the cast is unfortunately one-dimensional. The only part of the novel that evokes real emotion involves a very difficult experience Tessa endures without her mother’s support, although her trauma is never quite dealt with. All characters are assumed white.

Predictability and muddled language make this a mystery not worth solving. (Mystery. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7327713-9-0

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Doodle and Peck Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A fast-paced adventure starring a strong, likable female protagonist.

RASHA

At 14, plucky and precocious Rasha moves to her grandmother’s rural village, where she transforms herself and her new community.

After Rasha’s parents divorce, her father leaves Bangladesh for Canada. Soon after, her embittered mother announces that she is moving to Australia—but she isn’t taking Rasha with her. Instead, she sends Rasha to live with her maternal grandmother—her Nani—who went mad with grief after Rasha’s grandfather’s murder. Instead of giving in to hopelessness, Rasha decides to craft a new life for herself. In the process, she develops a strength and resourcefulness that she uses to stand up for the children in her community. Among other adventures, Rasha, a gifted math student, and her friends stop a child marriage, get an abusive teacher fired, and build a boat to get to school during the region’s annual flood. Perhaps most importantly, Rasha solves the mystery of her Nana’s death during the Bangladesh Liberation War, thereby helping her Nani heal. The portrayal of rural Bangladeshi life is empowering and unsentimental, and the critiques of rural corruption, sexism, and other social ills—all of which the reader sees through Rasha’s eyes—are both sharp and devoid of condescension. Rasha’s sense of justice and her growing independence are a pleasure to witness and a refreshing alternative to the portrayal of oppressed South Asian girls and teens found in many Western novels.

A fast-paced adventure starring a strong, likable female protagonist. (translator’s note) (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-343488-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2019

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A gothic page-turner.

HOOD ACADEMY

An English girl with a mysterious past discovers her future.

Mia has had a tough life. Her mother died in a car accident, her older brother left to figure out some things, and her father became an abusive monster. The one bit of luck Mia’s had recently is her father’s untimely murder at the claws of a great big furry beast. Now she is newly alone in the world, Mia’s mysterious uncle Sebastian arrives to bring her to Hood Academy, a small private school in Nottingham that trains werewolf hunters. Indeed, werewolves are real and deadly, and Mia’s past is full of them. Secrets are revealed, allegiances are tested, romance blooms, and friendships are forged in this tome that packs plenty of plot and pairs it with lycanthropic mythology and some good old-fashioned star-crossed romance. The enterprise is competently crafted, chugging along and tearing through plot twists and developments that will keep readers engaged. The emotions don’t run deep, but the action sequences are well rendered. All the werewolf-versus-hunter action gives the novel a charming throwback vibe—back to the early 2000s when Twilight was all the rage and the market was flooded with weird creatures that lusted for teen girls. Two secondary characters are repeatedly described as having dark skin in a way that emphasizes the white default for everyone else.

A gothic page-turner. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64397-009-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: BHC Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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