Tag Archives: Horror

Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ by Miles Hyman

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation by Miles Hyman. October 25, 2016. Hill and Wang, 160 p. ISBN: 9780809066490.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 560.

The classic short story–now in full color

Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” continues to thrill and unsettle readers nearly seven decades after it was first published. By turns puzzling and harrowing, “The Lottery” raises troubling questions about conformity, tradition, and the ritualized violence that may haunt even the most bucolic, peaceful village.

This graphic adaptation by Jackson’s grandson Miles Hyman allows readers to experience “The Lottery” as never before, or to discover it anew. He has crafted an eerie vision of the hamlet where the tale unfolds and the unforgettable ritual its inhabitants set into motion. Hyman’s full-color, meticulously detailed panels create a noirish atmosphere that adds a new dimension of dread to the original story.

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation stands as a tribute to Jackson, and reenvisions her iconic story as a striking visual narrative.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; depiction of nudity

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 4))
Grades 9-12. Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” gets graphic treatment by the author’s grandson in this adaptation of her most well-known work. Using an effective combination of striking visual images and pithy snippets of dialogue, the story, about an annual ritual of sacrifice in a small town and the dangers of blindly following tradition, is distilled to its brutal core. The story is well served by the bold illustrations—intensely saturated color work seems at first incongruous with iconic images that hearken back to the mid-twentieth century, but it lends intensity to the panels. Hyman has a keen eye for composition and creates strong visual interest with unusual angles, using a variety of panel sizes and perspectives to pull the reader in as the scenes unfold from different viewpoints. Lonesome street scenes and empty fields only heighten the sense of isolation and unease delivered by the text, and deliberate visual pacing during a pivotal scene focuses all the reader’s attention on the drama swiftly unfolding. One of the strongest graphic adaptations of a classic work to come along in some time.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2016)
A stunning graphic adaptation of a chilling classic. Hyman, grandson of Shirley Jackson, original author of “The Lottery,” offers his interpretation of her iconic story. In it, townspeople gather to partake in a disturbing tradition—the origins of and reasons for which we are not told. There is mention of bigger towns, where the lottery takes two days, and talk of other, radical towns where the lottery has been eliminated altogether. To follow their lead would mean regressing to living in caves and “eating stewed chickweed and acorns.” Each head of family must draw from an heirloom box a slip of paper. He who draws the slip with the black, circular mark is chosen; his family must draw again. The member of his family who draws the marked slip will be stoned, presumably to death, by the rest of the town, including the remaining family members. Hyman’s illustrations are powerful: rich and evocative graphic realism, softly colored, marrying Rockwell-ian and American Gothic style. The tone, at first, is both ominous and mundane. As the townspeople gather in the June sun, they banter with familiar ease—“Wouldn’t have me leave m’dishes in the sink, now, would you, Joe?”—but beneath the banal, the mood is decidedly baleful. When the black spot is drawn, the mood, along with the color scheme, shifts dramatically: both are immediately drained of the bucolic and sonorous. The rest of the story is starkly depicted in black, white, and harvest orange. The most unnerving illustration depicts a small boy taking up a fistful of child-sized rocks to aim at his pleading mother.A haunting story of humanity’s herd mentality, brilliantly rendered.

About the Author

A Vermont native, artist and author Miles Hyman currently lives in Paris. His prize-winning adaptation, with screenwriters Matz and David Fincher, of James Ellroy’s novel “The Black Dahlia” appeared to rave reviews in 2013. Upcoming publications include his authorized graphic adaptation of his grandmother Shirley Jackson’s thrilling masterpiece, “The Lottery” (Hill and Wang, October 2016).

Her website is www.mileshyman.com.

Teacher Resources

The Lottery Lesson Plans

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Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” on Amazon

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” on Goodreads

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” on JLG

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” Publisher Page

The Inn Between by Marina Cohen

The Inn Between by Marina Cohen. March 22, 2016. Roaring Brook Press, 208 p. ISBN: 9781626722026.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.3; Lexile: 580.

The Shining meets “Hotel California” in this supremely creepy middle grade novel about the bizarre things that happen to two girls stranded at a desert inn.

Eleven-year-old Quinn has had some bad experiences lately. She was caught cheating in school, and then one day, her little sister Emma disappeared while walking home from school. She never returned

When Quinn’s best friend Kara has to move away, she goes on one last trip with Kara and her family. They stop over at the first hotel they see, a Victorian inn that instantly gives Quinn the creeps, and she begins to notice strange things happening around them. When Kara’s parents and then brother disappear without a trace, the girls are stranded in a hotel full of strange guests, hallways that twist back in on themselves, and a particularly nasty surprise lurking beneath the floorboards. Will the girls be able to solve the mystery of what happened to Kara’s family before it’s too late?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Dark subject matter including death; child abduction; and vivid depiction of hell; Grotesque imagery

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2016 (Online))
Grades 5-8. Long-time friends Quinn and Kara find their friendship sorely tested when Kara’s family moves to California and Quinn accompanies them on a road trip to their new home. An unexpected stop at a strange desert inn full of increasingly spooky disappearances reminds Quinn too vividly of how her younger sister, Emma, went missing earlier that year. When Kara’s parents and brother appear to vanish, Quinn is determined to solve the inn’s mystery. The employees have names that might tip off astute readers to the inn’s real nature—Sharon and Persephone, for instance. Eerie flashbacks to Emma’s plight haunt Quinn, who catches glimpses of the little girl at the inn, but always in places she can’t reach. In an attempt to escape, the girls face increasing terror—a subbasement of horror and a flight across a scorching landscape that further tests the way Quinn and Kara are linked. For readers who enjoy being scared silly, this will fit the bill while also providing them with a thought-provoking ending.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 1, 2016)
A haunted hotel seeks new victims in this middle-grade suspense novel. Eleven-year-old Quinn’s best friend, Kara, is moving. Quinn is having difficulty letting go, so she makes the trip from Denver to Santa Monica with Kara and her family. When Kara’s parents stop to rest at the Inn Between, a grand Victorian hotel in the desert, Quinn is unnerved by the hotel’s strange architecture, its isolated location, and the odd guests and even odder hotel employees. Kara’s parents and brother disappear after the first night. Knowing they aren’t safe, the girls resolve to escape, even if it means traveling through the hot desert with little food and water, but before Quinn can leave the Inn Between, she must wrestle with some demons–both literally and figuratively. Shifting between past and present as Quinn reflects on her difficult relationship with her younger sister, Emma, and her immediate dilemma with Kara and the Inn Between, Cohen’s emotionally gripping tale perfectly captures the essences of friendship and sibling love. Heavy themes are handled with sensitivity, offering a cathartic experience for readers who may be dealing with similar situations. Readers should not be misled by the book’s innocuous cover–the book deals with such dark subjects as death and child abduction, and the concept of hell is described in vivid, frightening detail. Readers looking for a mystery with heart, humor, and hairy moments will be captivated. (Supernatural fiction. 9-12)

About the Author

Marina Cohen grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, where she spent far too much time asking herself what if… She has an M.A. in French Literature and is the author of several horror and fantasy novels for kids and teens.

In elementary school, one of her favorite authors was Edgar Allen Poe. She loved stories like The Tell-Tale Heart and The Pit and the Pendulum and aspired to write similar stories. She is a lover of the fantastical, the bizarre, and all things creepy.

Her website is www.marinacohen.com.

Around the Web

The Inn Between on Amazon

The Inn Between on Goodreads

The Inn Between on JLG

The Inn Between Publisher Page

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. February 7, 2017. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 224 p. ISBN: 0374282102.

Life in a small town takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut

Jeremy works at the counter of Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It’s a small town—the first “a” in the name is pronounced ay—smack in the center of the state. This is the late 1990s, pre-DVD, and the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut. But there are regular customers, a predictable rush in the late afternoon. It’s good enough for Jeremy: It’s a job; it’s quiet and regular; he gets to watch movies; he likes the owner, Sarah Jane; it gets him out of the house, where he and his dad try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck.

But when Stephanie Parsons, a local schoolteacher, comes in to return her copy of Targets, starring Boris Karloff—an old movie, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store—she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, Lindsey Redinius brings back She’s All That, a new release, and complains that there’s something wrong with it: “There’s another movie on this tape.”

So Jeremy takes a look. And indeed, in the middle of the movie the screen blink dark for a moment and She’s All That is replaced by a black-and-white scene, shot in a barn, with only the faint sounds of someone breathing. Four minutes later, She’s All That is back. But there is something profoundly disturbing about that scene; Jeremy’s compelled to watch it three or four times. The scenes recorded onto Targets are similar, undoubtedly created by the same hand. Creepy. And the barn looks a lot like a barn just outside of town.

Jeremy doesn’t want to be curious. In truth, it freaks him out, deeply. This has gone far enough, maybe too far already. But Stephanie is pushing, and once Sarah Jane takes a look and becomes obsessed, there’s no more ignoring the disturbing scenes on the videos. And all of a sudden, what had once been the placid, regular old Iowa fields and farmhouses now feels haunted and threatening, imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. For Jeremy, and all those around him, life will never be the same . . .

Book Trailer

About the Author

John Darnielle (born March 16, 1967) is an American musician and novelist best known as the primary (and often solitary) member of the American band the Mountain Goats, for which he is the writer, composer, guitarist, pianist, and vocalist.

Teacher Resources

Around the Web

Universal Harvester on Amazon

Universal Harvester on Goodreads

Universal Harvester on JLG

Universal Harvester Publisher Page

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox. March 15, 2016. Viking Books for Young Readers, 400 p. ISBN: 9780451476333.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.5; Lexile: 740.

An eerie gothic fairytale with a World War II setting and magic at its heart– and the recipient of four starred reviews and multiple honors.

Twelve-year-old Katherine Bateson believes in a logical explanation for everything. But even she can’t make sense of the strange goings-on at Rookskill Castle, the drafty old Scottish castle-turned-school where she and her siblings have been sent to escape the London Blitz. What’s making those mechanical shrieks at night? Why do the castle’s walls seem to have a mind of their own? And who are the silent children who seem to haunt Rookskill’s grounds? Kat believes Lady Eleanor, who rules the castle, is harboring a Nazi spy. But when her classmates begin to vanish, one by one, Kat must face the truth about what the castle actually harbors–and what Lady Eleanor is–before it’s too late.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns; Mild language; Child abuse; Ethnic slurs

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 9))
Grades 5-8. Robbie is thrilled at the prospect of going to school in a Scottish castle, an escape from London’s Blitz during WWII. His older sister, Katherine, takes a more measured view, suspicious of what lies ahead: their father plays an undercover role in MI6, Britain’s intelligence service, and has trained Kat in his clock-repair business (“You’ve a mind for patterns and a careful, patient hand”). Kat’s suspicions only increase when her great-aunt Margaret hands over her odd-looking chatelaine, an antique belt with charms attached—each supposed to be suffused with magic should Kat need it. Sure enough, a dark and perilous challenge lies ahead, and Kat is destined to take it on, though the level of malice she faces may be greater than she expected. Lady Eleanor, ostensibly in charge of the castle and school, is a malevolent force straight out of horror tales, and the children will need to fight for their lives—and souls. This wonderfully written gothic fairy tale pairs the horror elements with a steampunk witch and mysterious staff, all while telling a war-espionage tale. Embedded lessons—even including Plato’s cave allegory—from a pair of sympathetic castle teachers provide clues to defeating the evil witch. Readers will curl up and keep the lights on with this chilling page-turner.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2015)
During the Blitz, 12-year-old Londoner Kat, along with two younger siblings and an American boy, is sent to a distant relative’s Scottish castle, where they confront evils both old and contemporary. Though Lady Eleanor claims to be starting an academy in her castle and has hired faculty to attend to the curriculum, it’s soon clear that none are what they claim to be. The old castle keep is burned out, and the newer part seems to have weird twists and turns, secret doors and strange goings-on, including several ghostly children. Clues multiply early on that Eleanor is the same woman for whom the creepy, unnamed village magister has replaced living parts one by one over decades, each given in payment for a charm for a child’s soul. Kat’s father–now away working for MI6–is a watchmaker, and Kat has his gift for numbers, gears, and puzzles. Witchy magic, Nazi menace, and clockwork all come into play, along with an Enigma machine and spies for both the Allies and the Nazis seeking occult sources of power or protection. After the breathtaking climax, various threads of the story are tied up in a drawing-room denouement in which the characters decide to dispose of toxic magical artifacts rather carelessly–though in a way that invites anticipation (and fortuitously leaves room for sequels). An original, clever, page-turning adventure. (Historical fantasy. 10-14)

About the Author

Janet S. Fox (Janet Fox) is a writer, mom, and former high school English teacher. Her first young adult novel Faithful (Speak/Penguin, 2010), was a 2011 Amelia Bloomer list pick, and is set in Yellowstone National Park in 1904. Forgiven, a companion YA novel (Speak/Penguin, 2011) set in 1906 San Francisco at the time of the Great Earthquake, was a Junior Library Guild selection and WILLA Literary Award finalist. Janet’s third YA, Sirens (Speak, 1012), is a “noir romance” set in 1925 New York. Get Organized Without Losing It is her award-winning middle grade self-help book for kids (Free Spirit Publishing, 2006), and her debut middle grade novel, The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, is a spooky historical fantasy set in Scotland (Viking, 2016). Look for her second middle grade novel, The Last True Knight, from Viking in 2018. Janet is a 2010 graduate of the MFA/Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Janet currently lives in the mountains of Montana. The family loves dogs and is ruled by a rambunctious yellow lab puppy.

Her website is www.janetsfox.com.

Teacher Resources

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle Discussion and Activity Guide

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The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle on Amazon

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle on JLG

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle on Goodreads

 

A Taste for Monsters by Matthew Kirby

A Taste for Monsters by Matthew Kirby. September 27, 2016. Scholastic Press, 352 p. ISBN: 9780545817844.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 850.

Fear the living more than the dead.

It’s London 1888, and Jack the Ripper is terrorizing the people of the city. Evelyn, a young woman disfigured by her dangerous work in a matchstick factory, who has nowhere to go, does not know what to make of her new position as a maid to the Elephant Man in the London Hospital. Evelyn wants to be locked away from the world, like he is, shut in from the filth and dangers of the streets. But in Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, she finds a gentle kindred who does not recoil from her and who understands her pain.

When the murders begin, however, Joseph and Evelyn are haunted nightly by the ghosts of the Ripper’s dead, setting Evelyn on a path to facing her fears and uncovering humanity’s worst nightmares.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Sexual assault; Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist (August 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. After a fateful stint in Bryant and May’s match factory leaves 17-year-old orphan Evelyn Fallow with “phossy jaw”—and the scars that come with it—she seeks refuge within the supposedly secure walls of the London Hospital. Assigned to attend the notorious Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick, Evelyn is both boundlessly grateful and fiercely frightened. Though the two bond almost instantly, their friendship is swiftly punctuated by the arrival of late-night apparitions, which they soon recognize to be victims of “Leather Apron’s” concurrent murders. With the nightly return of each—first, the tormented Polly Nichols; second, the shrieking Annie Chapman; third, the inconsolable “Long Liz”; and, finally, the self-destructive Catherine Eddowes—Mr. Merrick’s fragile condition worsens. In order to save him, Evelyn will have to appease each spirit, inevitably confronting the squalor she escaped, as well as Jack the Ripper. While the anachronistic prose can be distracting, Kirby’s character development, particularly his portrayal of the extraordinary Mr. Merrick, is consistently impressive. Austen devotees are sure to appreciate Kirby’s commitment to the gothic entanglements of Northanger Abbey.

Publishers Weekly (June 27, 2016)
In this grisly fantasy from Kirby (the Dark Gravity Sequence), the year is 1888 and London’s slums are soon to be terrorized by Leather Apron (later known as Jack the Ripper), who murders prostitutes in the most gruesome manner possible. In a nearby East End hospital resides a monster of a gentler sort: Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, who has a new maid, 17-year-old Evelyn Fallows. Some would label Evelyn a monster as well, her jaw destroyed by phosphorus necrosis from working in a match factory. Evelyn is initially repulsed by Merrick’s deformity, but she soon recognizes him as a gentle soul. After the murders commence, the ghosts of Leather Apron’s victims begin to appear in Merrick’s room. Concerned about the effect of these monstrous apparitions on Merrick’s health, Evelyn ventures into the slums in an attempt to put the suffering ghosts to rest. Evelyn-all grit, anger, and distrust-is a complex and engaging character, the slums and slang of Victorian-era London are carefully delineated, and the eventual revelation of Leather Apron’s identity and fate will leave readers gasping. Ages 12-up. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary.

About the Author

Matthew Kirby was born in Utah, and grew up in Maryland, California, and Hawaii. As an undergraduate he majored in history, and then went on to pursue an M.S. in school psychology. For ten months out of the year he works with students, and during the rest of the year he writes. He and his wife currently live in northern Utah.

His website is www.matthewjkirby.com.

Teacher Resources

Jack the Ripper Activities and Questions

Joseph Merrick (The Elephant Man) Biography

Around the Web

A Taste for Monsters on Amazon

A Taste for Monsters on JLG

A Taste for Monsters on Goodreads

 

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud

The Creeping Shadow: Lockwood & Co. Book 4 by Jonathan Stroud. September 13, 2016. Disney-Hyperion, 464 p. ISBN: 9781484709672.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.0; Lexile: 690.

After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them–and only them–to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along….

Part of Series: Lockwood & Company

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Murder; Violent imagery; Cannibalism; Suicide

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 4))
Grades 5-8. Though Lucy’s making a go of it as a freelance psychic investigator, when Lockwood knocks on her door, asking for help with a case, she’s willing to work with the old firm again. Their tasks escalate from eradicating the ghost of a cannibalistic Londoner to descending, unarmed, into a den of brutal thugs and thieves. Soon the four young Lockwood agents stumble upon their most alarming and momentous challenge yet. Dispatching a vicious ghost is one thing, but uncovering a vast scheme of calculated evildoing is quite another. While the novel’s epic climax will please any lover of chills, thrills, and explosions, the simultaneous conversational counterpoint is not to be missed. A revelation in the concluding pages will leave readers wondering what dark secret lies behind the plague of spirits terrorizing England for 50 years. The wry first-person narrative is a pleasure, relating the story with an impeccable, understated sense of drama. Appearing at chapter headings, Adams’ dark, richly atmospheric, and often ghostly vignette drawings can make even a sandwich look downright sinister. Stroud’s scene setting and storytelling are second to none, but it’s his ability to create credible, idiosyncratic characters and relationships that makes avid fans of the Lockwood & Co. series.

About the Author

Jonathan Stroud is an author of fantasy books, mainly for children and youths.

Stroud grew up in St Albans where he enjoyed reading books, drawing pictures, and writing stories. Between the ages seven and nine he was often ill, so he spent most of his days in the hospital or in his bed at home. To escape boredom he would occupy himself with books and stories. After he completed his studies of English literature at the University of York, he worked in London as an editor for the Walker Books store. He worked with different types of books there and this soon led to the writing of his own books. During the 1990s, he started publishing his own works and quickly gained success.

Stroud lives in St Albans, Hertfordshire, with his two children, Isabelle and Arthur, and his wife Gina, an illustrator of children’s books.

His website is www.jonathanstroud.com.

Around the Web

The Creeping Shadow on Amazon

The Creeping Shadow on JLG

The Creeping Shadow on Goodreads

 

 

Hellfighters by Alexander Gordon Smith

Hellfighters by Alexanfder Gordon Smith. November 1, 2016. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 320 p. ISBN: 9780374301729.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 760.

Thrown into a relentless war against the forces of darkness, fifteen-year-old Marlow Green and his squad of secret soldiers must fight for control of the Devil’s Engines―ancient, infernal machines that can make any wish come true, as long as you are willing to put your life on the line. But after a monstrous betrayal, Marlow, Pan and the other Hellraisers find themselves on the run from an enemy with horrific powers and limitless resources―an enemy that wants them dead at all costs. Failure doesn’t just mean a fate worse than death for Marlow, it means the total annihilation of the world. And when all looks lost and the stakes couldn’t be higher, just how far is he willing to go?

Sequel to: Hellraisers

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Grotesque violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 9-12. The second installment of the Devil’s Engine trilogy picks up after Hellraisers (2015) ended: with the battered and bruised Marlowe, Pan, and the other Engineers racing from and toward danger and destruction, in hopes of saving the world. Chapters alternate narration between Marlowe and Pan, whose relationship deepens, leading to even higher-stakes decisions for Marlowe as he seeks to locate and save his old friend Charlie. Adventure fans will be thrilled by the fast-paced, wall-to-wall action, and horror readers will delight at the supernatural terror and gore in the Engineers’ battle against chaos and pure evil.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2016)
The Hellraisers have been betrayed, and all hell is threatening to break loose, quite literally.With the help of their ragtag crew, Teens Marlow and Pan are back in this follow-up to Hellraisers (2015). This time they not only battle nightmarish creatures, but must also travel between dimensions and through time to stop the Engine from releasing hell on Earth and destroying the world. Smith takes readers on another twisted, twisting journey and—to paraphrase the narrative—leaves readers with “images that belong in the sickest of horror movies.” With the exception of using skin tones to convey emotions and ailments, descriptions of race are largely avoided, leaving readers to conclude that most of the main characters are not people of color, an inherent and unfortunate trend in horror. While this sequel is certainly a page-turner and will keep readers engrossed, it’s not perfect. The imminent threat of Pan’s and Marlow’s expiring contracts with the Engine doesn’t pack enough of a gut-wrenching punch to really make readers feel it; there are a few too many pep-talk scenes with teary-eyed Hellraisers giving group hugs; and Pan and Marlow’s budding (but apparently inevitable in books for teens) romance is hard to swallow, particularly from Pan’s perspective. Nevertheless, this brings the same fear, fire, and comic relief as its predecessor, and readers will be happy enough with this sequel to the first Faustian tale to look forward to the next one. (Horror. 14 & up)

About the Author

Alexander Gordon Smith is the author of the Escape from Furnace series of young adult novels, including Lockdown and Solitary. Born in 1979 in Norwich, England, he always wanted to be a writer. After experimenting in the service and retail trades for a few years, Smith decided to go to University. He studied English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia, and it was here that he first explored his love of publishing. Along with poet Luke Wright, he founded Egg Box Publishing, a groundbreaking magazine and press that promotes talented new authors. He also started writing literally hundreds of articles, short stories and books ranging from Scooby Doo comic strips to world atlases, Midsomer Murders to X-Files. The endless research for these projects led to countless book ideas germinating in his head. His first book, The Inventors, written with his nine-year-old brother Jamie, was published in the U.K. in 2007. He lives in England.  His website is www.alexandergordonsmith.com.

Around the Web

Hellfighters on Amazon

Hellfighters on JLG

Hellfighters on Goodreads

 

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards. October 4, 2016. Sourcebooks Fire, 320 p. ISBN: 9781492615743.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 610.

Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.

Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful.

Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them.

Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion…

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2016)
A high school senior camping trip turns into a survival nightmare when the group is targeted by a violent stalker.Separated by a flooding river, the participants’ initial plan is to camp overnight and reunite the following morning. But when Lebanese-American narrator Sera, “white trash” Lucas, black Jude, and Asian-American Emily wake up, they discover they’ve been drugged. Overnight their equipment, including an emergency GPS, was destroyed, and their teacher seems to be suffering from an overdose. More disturbingly, each student’s wrist has a Sharpie-drawn label: “Darling,” “Dangerous,” “Deceptive,” and “Damaged,” respectively. The situation exacerbates pre-existing tensions, and members immediately suspect one another. However, the gruesome discovery that the teacher and students on the other side of the river have likely been murdered brings a fragile unity to Sera’s group—motivating their attempted hike to safety. Complicating matters is Sera’s conflict about her attraction to Lucas, the classically misunderstood bad boy—a storyline that conveniently proves there’s always time for romance. Meanwhile, the killer plays cat and mouse with the teens, leading them off-course with traps and feeding them misinformation, effectively amping up the tension. The premise is exciting and the pacing effective, but the novel is unfortunately light on details of how the villain could have actually planned and executed the whole situation. Full of drama and suspicion for readers who can get past its credibility problem. (Thriller. 14-18)

School Library Journal (September 1, 2016)
Gr 9 Up-A school hiking trip turns deadly in Richards’s dark, contemporary stand-alone thriller. Participation in a hike through the West Virginia woods is mandatory for graduating high school seniors. Sera’s misery is compounded by Lucas, the crush she’s avoided. A flash flood strands the campers and their teachers Mr. Walker and Ms. Brighton on either side of a river. The next day, Sera wakes up from a drugged sleep, discovering evidence that the campers were attacked. Mr. Walker is found unconscious, and the campers are marked on their wrists: Jude, Deceptive; Emily, Damaged; Lucas, Dangerous; and Sera, Darling. Someone is targeting them for crimes, imagined or real, and they must work together to survive the hunt. Richards delivers a solid page-turner for readers who want to keep the lights on all night. With its predatory atmosphere, this book feels like The Breakfast Club folded into a Christopher Pike novel’s fight for survival. The characters’ ethnicities are refreshingly inclusive. However, the plot suffers from a weakness that holds it back from rising above average. The backstory behind the attack is based on a ghostly tale that readers are never sufficiently privy to, weakening the tension and at times causing actual confusion. The attacks are quite graphic and may be unsuitable for sensitive readers. VERDICT An enticing thriller that, despite some defects, remains a general purchase recommendation.-Jessica Bushore, formerly at Shelf Awareness, Xenia, OH

About the Author

Natalie D. Richards won her first writing competition in the second grade with her short story about Barbara Frances Bizzlefishes (who wouldn’t dare do the dishes.) She later misplaced her writing dreams in a maze of cubicles and general office drudgery. Natalie never forgot about Barbara or those dishes, and eventually she found her way back to storytelling, following the genre of her heart, teen fiction. When she’s not writing or shopping her manuscripts, you can probably find her wading through the towers of dog-eared paperbacks that have taken over her bedroom.

Natalie lives in Ohio with her amazing husband and their three children, who inspire her every day to stick with her dreams.  Her website is www.nataliedrichards.com.

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One Was Lost on Amazon

One Was Lost on JLG

One Was Lost on Goodreads

 

 

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies by David Lubar

Seriously Shifted by David Lubar. September 13, 2016. Starscape, 205 p. ISBN: 9780765377265.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 630.

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies is the eighth collection of spooky short stories for ages 8 to 12 by the beloved author of the Nathan Abercrombie series, David Lubar. This is the perfect pick for reluctant young readers who like a few chills and a lot of laughs.

The appearance of a mysterious new girl in school stops her classmates cold. Black Friday shopping gets out of control for a mother and daughter. And stands full of screaming and shouting Bleacher Weenies are about to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Welcome to the Weenie Zone! Here are thirty-one hilarious and harrowing stories that will scare you, make you laugh, or get you to see the world in a whole new way. Find out where the author got the idea for each story at the end of the book.

Don’t be a weenie. Read these stories. If you dare!

Part of Series: Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2016)
The weird, warped weenies return for an eighth collection of tiny terror tales.Vampires stalk vampires that stalk vampires (to eat of course). A spelling mistake in special writing-assistance software at school introduces Hector to the Different, where the hyperbolic descriptions on video clips (“…will make you wet your pants!”) are lethally true. With conservation in mind, Serena works successfully to get the local werewolf placed on the endangered species list…and finds she’s suddenly the go-to girl for supernatural beings tired of being hunted to extinction. Lubar, king of the quick and twisty tale, sultan of the scary (and sometimes silly) short-short story, presents 30 more diminutive dips into the strange, the bizarre, and the unexpected. Most end badly for the protagonist or narrator; boys and girls are represented in equal number. It’s to be expected in a field of well over 200 weenies stories there will be some strikeouts; there are a few here. However, the final story alone is worth the price of a ticket to this game (coulrophobes, don’t even think about reading it!). The collection concludes with a section of story notes explaining the origins of these tales of time travel, revenge, fears come to life, and bullies getting their just deserts. Fans will be shivering and laughing…evilly. (Short stories. 9-12)

About the Author

David Lubar has written more than thirty books for teens and young readers. His novels, including Hidden Talents and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, are on reading lists across the country, saving countless students from a close encounter with Madam Bovary. His novel, Dunk, won Pennsylvania’s Young Adult Book Award and was used by the New Jersey Library Association for their One Book New Jersey program. His Weenies short story collections have sold more than two million copies. He is a popular speaker at schools and conferences around the country. He also designed and programmed many video games in an earlier eight-bit life, including Home Alone and Frogger 2. In his spare time, he takes naps on the couch.

He grew up in New Jersey, went to Rutgers, and now lives in Nazareth, PA with one awesome female and various annoying felines. You can visit him on the web at www.davidlubar.com.

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Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies on Amazon

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies on JLG

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies on Goodreads