A lively and captivating teen paranormal ride.

COLD AS MARBLE

From the Light as a Feather series , Vol. 2

High school students dabble in witchcraft in a race to break a deadly spell.

McKenna Brady is back from boarding school for winter break, having been expelled after unsuccessfully attempting to break Violet Simmons’ lethal curses. She now has just eight days to prevent Violet from killing her friend Mischa. Last fall, Violet predicted the deaths of their friends Olivia and Candace, with macabre details and accuracy during a game of Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. Now Violet is giving tarot card readings in school, and McKenna believes her predictions are connected to the lunar calendar. Aarsen quickly picks up where Light as a Feather (2018) leaves off, with improved results: The story is gripping and fast-paced, with sharper dialogue and plenty of hair-raising spookiness mixed with high school tomfoolery. Readers will devour the juicy occult particulars as McKenna discovers that she is a medium and teams up with friends to use a divination pendulum, phases of the moon, and other Wiccan magick to try to stop Violet. There’s much to enjoy here, but the main premise, that McKenna and her friends must somehow force Violet to lie down and play Light as a Feather, Cold as Marble to break the spell, is flimsy enough that one hopes Aarsen uses her growing talents on new material. Most characters are assumed white.

A lively and captivating teen paranormal ride. (Horror. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4431-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The Phantom of the Opera served as inspiration, but this wouldn’t last on Broadway.

PHANTOM HEART

Stephanie and her family move into an old mansion rumored to have been put under a curse after a turn-of-the-20th-century rich boy meddled with an Egyptian mummy.

After her young sister complains about strange events, high school student Stephanie befriends Lucas, a geeky, good-looking boy, and meets the other members of SPOoKy, the Scientific Paranormal Organization of Kentucky: Charlotte, Wes, and Patrick. Stephanie learns the history of her new home from Lucas, who attracts her romantic attention, but the usually levelheaded girl is soon drawn to Erik, the handsome phantom who first comes to her in dreams. The story is told in chapters narrated by Stephanie, Lucas, and Zedok, whose identity is initially a source of confusion to Stephanie. Zedok appears wearing different masks, “personified slivers” of his soul, representing states of mind such as Wrath, Madness, and Valor. Meanwhile, until gifted singer Stephanie came along and he could write songs for her, Erik’s dreams were thwarted; he wanted to be a composer but his family expected him to become a doctor. In the gothic horror tradition, Erik’s full background and connection with Zedok are slowly revealed. Romantic dream sequences are lush and swoon-y, but the long, drawn-out battle to end the curse, aided by a celebrity clairvoyant, is tedious, and the constant introduction of Erik’s different personae is confusing. Most characters default to White; Patrick is Black.

The Phantom of the Opera served as inspiration, but this wouldn’t last on Broadway. (Horror. 13-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11604-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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