Magical mysteries, action and adventure, and ruminations on grief, all in one enchanting package.


A young woman finds herself transported to a magical world of talking animals in King’s YA novel.

Lorette “Lore” Deodarán is an awkward 18-year-old whose life is in upheaval: A new home in the town of Hazel Borough, a new school just a month from graduation, and court-ordered therapy only add to the familiar, crushing anxiety of her fraught family life. A job at a neighborhood bakery and time spent with her grandmother Mamó promise some measure of reprieve—until a big-eared, golden-eyed creature searching for a particular charm bracelet inadvertently causes Mamó’s death. When Lore attempts to catch the beast, she tumbles down the blue brick well behind her grandmother’s cabin. She lands in the town of Charmsend, in another world called Thimbleton, where humans have long been extinct. It’s a magical place, full of talking animals who wield mystical powers. Lore receives aid from an adventurous mouse named Mathilde who is working to solve the murder of her adoptive father, Gannon, a gentle giant of an alligator. The author’s prose is whip-smart and laced with poetry, regularly returning to themes of precious gems and flowers. Chapters are short and fast-paced, and the characters exchange fun, snappy dialogue (“ ‘Human, I am this size because I am a mouse, not because I am a child.’ Lore sucked on the inside of her cheek and quietly sat back down. ‘You could have just led with that, you know,’ she grumbled”) that makes the exposition go down easily. The novel excels at establishing settings; Charmsend is as bewitching as its name implies, a fully formed society with unique customs for everything, from preserving their history to burying their dead. While there’s plenty of action (including an exciting fight with a giant librarian snake), the way the story captures grief, both in how Lore recalls her grandmother after her death and how Mathilde honors her father, is equally impactful.

Magical mysteries, action and adventure, and ruminations on grief, all in one enchanting package.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781958607718

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Inimitable Books, LLC

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.


A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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