A charming romp through a world where Malaysian spirits are very real.

BLACK WATER SISTER

Jessamyn Teoh’s grandmother is back from the dead—but Jess is the only one who can hear her.

After financial setbacks, Harvard graduate Jess and her parents move back to Malaysia looking for a fresh start. Having grown up in the United States, Jess finds returning to Malaysia is an adjustment, as she tries to balance her family’s expectations (she’s living in her aunt’s house, after all) with her own ideas about what her life should look like (maybe her girlfriend shouldn’t be secret). In the middle of making sure her father doesn’t work too hard and entertaining a steady stream of her aunt’s friends, Jess is visited by her grandmother’s ghost, who definitely has unfinished business. Soon, Jess is mixed up in a world of real estate tycoons, petty gangsters, and gods who really don’t like it when you tamper with their shrines—and the Black Water Sister is the worst of them all. Fast-paced and full of witty one-liners, with a solid grounding in contemporary Malaysia, this is a fun urban fantasy that touches on the ways in which trauma and violence echo through generations. Cho’s evocation of place is impeccable, but while the plot moves quickly between supernatural events and familial squabbles, the relationships between characters remain somewhat underdeveloped; the most important journey is the one Jess takes toward understanding herself and her own autonomy.

A charming romp through a world where Malaysian spirits are very real.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-425-28343-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ace/Berkley

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A grade-A, weirdly comforting, and familiar stew of domestic drama, slasher horror, and primeval evil.

THE BOOK OF ACCIDENTS

A family that's banished itself to the woods of rural Pennsylvania finds more than they bargained for when supernatural forces decide they would make quite a snack.

Prolific and delightfully profane, Wendig pulled off a good trick last time with his sprawling, inventive, and prescient apocalypse chronicle, Wanderers (2019). This is another doorstopper, but here he returns to macabre horror reminiscent of his supernatural Miriam Black novels, injected with a juicy dose of Stephen King–like energy. An eerie opening introduces Edmund Walker Reese, a serial killer strapped into Pennsylvania’s electric chair circa 1990 for murdering four girls—a killer who disappears the second the switch is flipped. In the present day, former Philly cop Nate Graves is stewing over the death of his abusive father, who's left him a home in the woods. Maddie, Nate’s artist wife, thinks it’s perfect for her work, not to mention a natural refuge for their hypersensitive son, Oliver, who's imbued with not only a preternatural empathy for others, but also a gift for lending the pained some solace. At Nate's new job as a Fish and Game officer, his partner, Axel Figeroa, always has one eye open for trouble because of their proximity to Ramble Rocks, where Reese committed his dirty deeds, as does the Graves' neighbor Jed Homackie, a whiskey-drinking peacenik with secrets of his own. As happens, things get weird. Nate starts seeing his dead father around every corner. Maddie experiences fugue states that aren’t simpatico with her newfound predilection for chainsaw sculpture. Oliver gets the worst of it, finding himself caught between a couple of vicious bullies and a newfound frenemy, Jake, who quickly emerges as someone­­­­—or something—far darker than he appears. The characters are eccentric and likable even if their plight isn’t quite unpredictable, and the book will be catnip to horror fans, complete with meddling kids, doppelgangers, dimensional fissures, demons, and ghosts; it's a prototypical edge-of-your-seat plunge into real terror.

A grade-A, weirdly comforting, and familiar stew of domestic drama, slasher horror, and primeval evil.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-18213-6

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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