Tag Archives: Horror

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Melmoth by Sarah Perry. October 16, 2018. Custom House, 273 p. ISBN: 9780062856395.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

For centuries, the mysterious dark-robed figure has roamed the globe, searching for those whose complicity and cowardice have fed into the rapids of history’s darkest waters—and now, in Sarah Perry’s breathtaking follow-up to The Essex Serpent, it is heading in our direction.

It has been years since Helen Franklin left England. In Prague, working as a translator, she has found a home of sorts—or, at least, refuge. That changes when her friend Karel discovers a mysterious letter in the library, a strange confession and a curious warning that speaks of Melmoth the Witness, a dark legend found in obscure fairy tales and antique village lore. As such superstition has it, Melmoth travels through the ages, dooming those she persuades to join her to a damnation of timeless, itinerant solitude. To Helen it all seems the stuff of unenlightened fantasy.

But, unaware, as she wanders the cobblestone streets Helen is being watched. And then Karel disappears. . . .

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Grotesque imagery

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Like the Wandering Jew, Perry’s nightmarish Melmoth the Witness ranges the earth recording horrors wrought by humankind. She watches and tracks individuals (who feel hairs prick on their neck and search the shadows for visions) whose sins cannot be forgiven, upon whom she preys with flashes of magical realism, recalling the imagery in Perry’s The Essex Serpent​ (2017). The nonlinear time line of historical events and the nested stories involving wide-ranging and complex characters may sometimes make readers feel uneasy or even lost. But once we gain our sea legs, this stylized, postmodern work by a masterly writer compels us to see genocide, war, deportation, and even compassionate deadly crimes through new eyes that reflect the characters’ perspectives. Helen Franklin is a young British woman working as a translator in Prague, where she and her new friends, Karel and Thea, discover a shocking document describing the wanderings of the mythical Melmoth. Later, after reading the unforgettable horrors detailed in the document, Helen breaks down, seemingly unable to withstand the starkly upsetting images, thrumming inevitability of remembrance, and the guilt we all share in some way. This is a sobering, disturbing, yet powerful and moving book that cannot fail to impress. The stories-within-stories and the Jewish themes recall Dara Horn’s The World to Come (2006) and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (2013), although Melmoth presents different kinds of nightmares.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2018)
Haunted by past misdeeds, a self-exiled English translator encounters the uncanny in snow-covered Prague. Helen Franklin doesn’t deserve joy, so she arranges her own “rituals of discomfort: the uncovered mattress, the unheated room, the bitter tea,” the modern-day equivalents of wearing a hair shirt. When one of her few friends, the scholar Karel Pražan, stops her on the street to share his discovery of a strange manuscript, Helen begins to suspect her past has caught up with her at last. The manuscript contains tales from many sources, and they all detail horrors in various degrees: a young Austrian boy who gets his neighbors sent to concentration camps during World War II, a 16th-century Protestant in Tudor England striving to retain her faith in the face of persecution, a 19th-century Turkish bureaucrat responsible for writing a memo used to justify the detention of Armenian families. In each of these tales lurks the spectral figure of Melmoth, a witness “cursed to wander the earth without home or respite, until Christ comes again.” But why does steady, practical Helen Franklin feel Melmoth’s “cold gaze passing at the nape of her neck”—and what misdeeds from her past have pushed her to the brink of exhaustion? While Helen’s friends—the sharp, wry Thea, a former barrister, the cranky landlord Albína, and the saintly Adaya—worry, the beseeching hand of Melmoth grows ever closer. In rich, lyrical prose, Perry (The Essex Serpent, 2017, etc.) weaves history and myth, human frailty and compassion, into an affecting gothic morality tale for 2018. Like David Mitchell and Sarah Waters, Perry is changing what a modern-day ghost story can look like, challenging her readers to confront the realities of worldwide suffering from which fiction is so often an escape. A chilling novel about confronting our complicity in past atrocities—and retaining the strength and moral courage to strive for the future.

About the Author

Sarah Perry was born in Essex in 1979, and was raised as a Strict Baptist. Having studied English at Anglia Ruskin University she worked as a civil servant before studying for an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Creative Writing and the Gothic at Royal Holloway, University of London. In 2004 she won the Spectator’s Shiva Naipaul Award for travel writing.

She currently lives in Norwich, where she is completing her third novel.

Her website is www.sarahperry.net/

Teacher Resources

Melmoth Discussion Questions

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Check Out the Library Weenies by David Lubar

Check Out the Library Weenies: and Other Warped and Creepy Tales by David Lubar. September 4, 2018. Starscape, 224 p. ISBN: 9780765397065.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.0.

Master of the macabre David Lubar is back with Check Out the Library Weenies, his ninth collection of Weenies Stories. Here are thirty more scary stories for the middle grade audience–perfect for both avid and reluctant young readers who like a few chills and a lot of laughs.

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

Part of Series: Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales. (Book # 9)

Potentially Sensitive Areas:Grotesque imagery, Violence

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2018)
Beware, the weenies return with 30 new tales to warp your mind and chill your spine. Lubar returns with the ninth collection in 15 years of short and sometimes shivery stories. There are sci-fi stories, horror stories, fantasy stories, and revenge stories. In a medieval village, one tale’s narrator wants a wizard to turn all of the silver in a house into gold. It’s not the narrator’s house; what possible reason could he have…it’s a monstrous reason. Pamela must stay with her great-aunt while her mother’s on a business trip. Great Aunt Hester collects dolls’ heads. Can Pamela stand to sleep in a room lined with staring bodiless dolls? In the title story, the collection’s longest, a group of bullied book lovers are locked out of their library hangout due to mold. When they create a golem to protect themselves, it turns on them. Help arrives from an unexpected quarter. A few are less engaging than others, but they’re short; just turn the page. Fans will be happy at the variety in these tales, and story notes at the close will be fun to investigate for budding authors. Also at the close: a reading and activity guide for grades four through seven that lists the common core standards it supports. Diversity is achieved largely through naming convention. Lots to like but not for the faint of heart. (Short stories. 8-12)

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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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White. September 25, 2018. Delacorte Press, 304 p. ISBN: 9780525577973.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

The Frankenstein legend as you’ve never seen it before, as told by New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White! You will not be able to put down this stunning and dark reimagining of the Mary Shelley classic told from the point of view of Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein’s adopted sister, timed for the 200th anniversary.

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 9-12. Elizabeth Lavenza knows her place: she’s the calming influence over Victor Frankenstein’s violent moods, and if she stops being useful to the Frankensteins, she’ll have nowhere to go. When Victor stops writing letters from university in Ingolstadt, Elizabeth, who’s terrified of becoming unnecessary, sets out to track him down. What she finally discovers is gruesome, albeit awe-inspiring, but her instinct to protect him is impossible to fight. As Victor’s actions become more deranged, however, Elizabeth can’t bring herself to be a willing accomplice. In this clever retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, White neatly undercuts the original by making Victor’s narrative wildly unreliable. Elizabeth, who’s a minor character in Shelley’s novel, takes center stage here, and her development is the emotional heart of the story. After enduring years of gaslighting by both Victor Frankenstein and his father, she gradually comes to realize her own strength and becomes powerful in her own right. While readers of the original might get more out of it, this character-driven novel with a healthy amount of gore should appeal to horror fans, too.

Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2018)
White’s (Bright We Burn, 2018, etc.) timely retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is told from the point of view of 17-year-old Elizabeth Lavenza, ward of the Frankensteins and caretaker of Victor Frankenstein. Elizabeth’s childhood was full of loss and despair. In the Frankenstein home she was cared for as long as she socialized Victor and kept him calm, but he has gone off to study and fallen out of contact. Without him, she feels her future is uncertain, as he was the reason for her existence in his family’s home. Fearing that she will be once again destitute, Elizabeth convinces her friend Justine to travel with her to find Victor and bring him back. What Elizabeth finds rocks her to her core, and, fearing for Victor’s safety and future, she does all she can to protect him. But what if the monster she truly fears is not the misshapen monstrosity of Victor’s creation but something with a more human form? White creates an exciting tale with strong, witty, and certainly flawed, white female protagonists. Readers will ponder whether monsters are beings that are outwardly frightening or if it is one’s soul, or lack thereof, that makes one a true monster. Those familiar with the original story will enjoy the references to it scattered throughout. An all-around win for readers who enjoy (not too scary) horror, thrilling tales, and contemplating the deeper meaning of life. (Fiction. 15-18)

About the Author

Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling author of many books for teens and young readers, including And I Darken, Now I Rise, Bright We Burn, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and Slayer.

She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, where she perpetually lurks in the shadows. Her website is www.kierstenwhite.com

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Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. April 3, 2018. Balzer + Bray, 455 p. ISBN: 9780062570604.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 870.

At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland’s stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar—a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet.

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Part of Series: Dread Nation (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Racial taunts, Discrimination, War, Violence, Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 6))
Grades 9-12. Ireland delivers a necessary, subversive, and explosive novel with her fantasy-laced alternate history. America is changed forever when the dead begin to prowl battlefields during the Civil War. The horror births a new nation and a different type of slavery, in which laws force Native and Negro children to attend combat schools and receive training to put down the dead. Jane McKeene attends Miss Preston’s School for Combat in Baltimore. She studies to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette, to protect the white well-to-do. For Negro girls like Jane, it’s a chance for a better life; however, as she nears the completion of her education, she longs simply to return to her Kentucky home. But when families around Baltimore go missing, Jane finds herself entangled in a conspiracy that results in a fight for her life against powerful enemies. Ireland crafts a smart, poignant, thrilling novel that does the all-important work of exploring topics of oppression, racism, and slavery, while simultaneously accomplishing so much more. It explores friendship, love, defying expectations, and carving out your own path instead of submitting to the one thrust upon you. From page one, Jane is a capable, strong heroine maneuvering through a world that is brilliant and gut-wrenching. This will take readers on a breathless ride from beginning to end.

Horn Book Magazine (May/June, 2018)
Just days after Jane McKeene, notoriously known as the daughter of a white plantation-owner mother and an unknown “Negro” field-hand father, was born, the Civil War became a war between the living and the undead when bodies began to rise on the Gettysburg battlefield. Now seventeen, Jane is about to complete the combat training required by the Native and Negro Reeducation Act established in the aftermath of the Great Discord. Soon she will seek a position as a white society lady’s Attendant, a chaperone/bodyguard providing protection from scandal and “shamblers” (the undead) alike. Her tendency to break the rules—including sneaking out to help her disreputable friend Jackson search for his missing sister Lily—gets Jane and snooty classmate Katherine shipped off to the Survivalist (read: white supremacist) outpost of Summerland to be Attendants on the frontier (read: zombie fodder). But upon arrival, Katherine’s “passing light” appearance provides the girls with a handy, if distasteful, cover story—Katherine is a new-to-town white lady and Jane her Attendant—as they gain the sheriff’s trust, look for Lily, and uncover the town’s sinister secrets. This absorbing page-turner works on multiple levels: as unflinching alternate history set in post-Reconstruction-era Maryland and Kansas; as a refreshingly subversive action story starring a badass (and biracial and bisexual) heroine; as zombie fiction suspenseful and gory enough to please any fan of the genre; and as a compelling exhortation to scrutinize the racist underpinnings of contemporary American sociopolitical systems. An author’s note discusses the history of exploitative Native American boarding schools, the real-life basis for Dread Nation’s combat school system. katie bircher

About the Author

Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows.

Her website is www.justinaireland.com

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Dread Nation on Amazon

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Strange Star by Emma Carroll

Strange Star by Emma Carroll. March 20, 2018. Delacorte Press, 240 p. ISBN: 9780399556067.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.3; Lexile: 590.

From the critically acclaimed author of In Darkling Wood comes a spine-tingling novel inspired by Frankenstein with more than a hint of mystery and suspense. 

One stormy June evening, five friends meet at Villa Diodati, the summer home of Lord Byron. After dinner is served, they challenge each other to tell ghost stories that will freeze the blood. But one of the guests–Mary Shelley–is stuck for a story to share.

Then there’s an unexpected knock at the front door. Collapsed on the doorstep is a girl with strange scars on her face. She has traveled a long way with her own tale to tell, and now they all must listen.

Hers is no ordinary ghost story, though. What starts as a simple tale of village life soon turns to tragedy and the darkest, most dangerous of secrets. Sometimes the truth is far more terrifying than fiction . . . and the consequences are even more devastating.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Some gruesome imagery, Death of a parent, Inhumane treatment of animals

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 4-7. On a dark summer night in Switzerland, Lord Byron challenges his friends to tell ghost stories, while Felix, a servant boy told to stay out of sight because of his dark skin color, listens at the door. One guest, Mary Shelley, struggles with the challenge. Then, a knock at the door: a half-dead girl named Lizzie with strange scars has appeared on the doorstep, and she has a chilling story of her own. A comet—some say a bad omen—passed over Lizzie’s village, and a lightning storm changed her life for the worse. Her inquisitive sister keeps getting into trouble, and a mysterious scientist keeps appearing in the graveyard. As all these seemingly unconnected things come to a head, Lizzie faces an incredible journey, carrying a story that, perhaps, Mary Shelley needs to hear. Frankenstein’s influence is clear in this Gothic-infused middle-grade novel—though knowledge of it is certainly not a prerequisite—and Carroll (In Darkling Wood, 2017) is adept at crafting tense, atmospheric backdrops. Effective as an introduction to a classic or as stand-alone horror-lite.

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2017)
’Twas a dark and stormy night in 1816 when several literary luminaries gathered at a Swiss villa to spin tales of unearthly terror. Beginning with their host, Lord Byron, the participants—who include Percy and Mary Shelley—embark upon their evening’s entertainment but are soon interrupted by the dramatic arrival of a blind English girl, famished and bearing mysterious scars. She has a shocking story of her own to tell, one that includes a comet that portends misfortune; the arrival in Somerset of a reclusive woman scientist, Francesca Stine; a ravening beast preying on livestock in the night; an arrogant cloaked gentleman lurking in graveyards; visions of imminent death; and horrific experiments in the name of science. The sole nonwhite character, Felix, is a former American slave who somehow acquired his freedom and sailed to Europe, where he was hired by Byron’s housekeeper. The inclusion of a courageous young person of color who is respected by the white people around him is a welcome novelty in historical fiction. Against the backdrop of the central mystery, the texture of daily life in Georgian England and some of the pressing social issues of the day are vividly portrayed. Suspenseful and atmospheric, the book features an afterword by the author about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and her inspiration for the characters and plot. An adventure story packed full to the brim with drama—and just the right amount of shivery, fearsome delight. (Horror. 9-14)

About the Author

After years of teaching English to secondary school students, Emma now writes full time. She graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing For Young People. In another life Emma wishes she’d written ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier.

She lives in the Somerset hills with her husband and three terriers. Her website is emmacarrollauthor.wordpress.com/

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Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda. February 20, 2018. Fiewel & Friends, 378 p. ISBN: 9781250085894.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Physical abuse

 

Reviews

School Library Journal
Before humans made Earth completely unlivable, the Exodus project was launched, sending out manned spacecrafts to begin the process of planetary colonization. Among them, the USS John Muir carried the soil and plant life needed for terraforming. That was 400 years ago. The ships were lost; now, finding them is the last hope for human survival. In this intense sci-fi thriller, Alameda paints a bleak picture of the future and poses the question: Is the human species worthy of being saved? Two teen protagonists provide the first-person play-by-play in alternating chapters. Tuck, a white self-deprecating loner, belatedly awakens from stasis aboard the John Muir to discover most of the crew are missing and the ship is overrun with deadly monsters. Shocked by the passage of time and keenly aware of how unlikely it is they’ll be found, Tuck shows little concern for death in keeping the ship operational. Laura, a talented hacker and budding archaeologist of Latinx heritage, searches with her family for the original Exodus ships in hopes of finding and salvaging valuable cargo. When Laura’s ship’s computer is hijacked by terrorists, Tuck and Laura are the only two people capable of saving their crews and, possibly, the entire human species. The nail-biting plot will keep teens engaged, even though the terrifying monsters are poorly explained. The budding romance between the two complex protagonists takes a backseat to the high-octane action. —Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

About the Author

A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, Shutter, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a “standout in the genre” by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, Pitch Dark (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality. Her website is www.courtneyalameda.com.

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Hellwalkers by Alexander Gordon Smith

Hellwalkers by Alexander Gordon Smith. November 7, 2017. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 320 p. ISBN: 9780374301743.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 810.

In the third and final book of Alexander Gordon Smith’s Devil’s Engine series, Marlow and Pan are in hell. Literally in hell. Faced with the awful truth of being trapped in the underworld for an eternity―of Pan being trapped―Marlow makes a final deal with the Devil, a deal to go home. But when Marlow and Pan return to Earth, they cannot close the door behind them. And all hell breaks loose. It is a war to end all wars―demonic creatures spill into the streets of New York, monsters haunt the shadows. Only the Hellraisers stand in their way, and they’re not sure this is a battle they can win. They have no powers, they have no weapons. But they have each other, and they have hope, and they know how to kick ass.

Only one thing’s for sure: One way or another, it all ends here.

Sequel to: Hellfighters

Part of series: The Devil’s Engine (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Grotesque violence

 

 

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.

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There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. September 26, 2017. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 289 p. ISBN: 9780525426011.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Love hurts…

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Grotesque violence, Transphobia

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. The ever-popular Perkins (Isla and the Happily Ever After, 2014) takes a sharp turn out of YA romance in her latest offering, a clever—and, to fans, no doubt surprising—foray into the teen slasher genre. When Makani Young moved from her native Hawaii to her grandmother’s house in Nebraska, she thought her biggest concerns would be fitting in, putting her troubled past behind her, and navigating her attraction to a mysterious boy. She didn’t expect the students at Osborne High to start dying as murder after seemingly unconnected murder shocks the small town. And Makani certainly never expected herself to be targeted by the killer. Perkins deftly builds the suspense like a pro: an uneasy opening leads to some legitimately horrifying murders, and the identity of the killer isn’t quite as important as the motivation. Diverse characters, including a transgender boy, are folded into the tale. This is the same reliable formula that spawned the Scream franchise, and Perkins wields it to great effect: readers will be sleeping with one eye open.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2017)
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)

About the Author

Stephanie Perkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. She has always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. Stephanie lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband. Every room of their house is painted a different color of the rainbow.

Her website is www.stephanieperkins.com

Around the Web

There’s Someone Inside Your House on Amazon

There’s Someone Inside Your House on Goodreads

There’s Someone Inside Your House on JLG

There’s Someone Inside Your House Publisher Page

Poe: Stories and Poems by Gareth Hinds

Poe: Stories and Poems by Gareth Hinds. August 1, 2017. Candlewick Press, 120 p. ISBN: 9780763681128.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 960.

In a thrilling adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known works, acclaimed artist-adapter Gareth Hinds translates Poe’s dark genius into graphic-novel format.

It is true that I am nervous. But why will you say that I am mad?

In “The Cask of Amontillado,” a man exacts revenge on a disloyal friend at carnival, luring him into catacombs below the city. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” a prince shielding himself from plague hosts a doomed party inside his abbey stronghold. A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, faced with a swinging blade and swarming rats, can’t see his tormentors in “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a milky eye and a deafening heartbeat reveal the effects of conscience and creeping madness. Alongside these tales are visual interpretations of three poems — “The Raven,” “The Bells,” and Poe’s poignant elegy to lost love, “Annabel Lee.” The seven concise graphic narratives, keyed to thematic icons, amplify and honor the timeless legacy of a master of gothic horror.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Alcohol, Smoking, Bloody images

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 8-11. Veteran illustrator Hinds breathes vivid life into seven of Edgar Allan Poe’s most well-known stories and poems in his latest adaptation. Faithfully preserving the gothic tone of the original texts, from the macabre endpapers filled with symbols of death to the twisted anguished faces found throughout its pages, the author never shies away from the darkness found there, instead distilling Poe’s fascination with madness, death, and terror into single haunting images: a sliver of lamplight shines on a milky blue eye in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and a shadowy black raven haunts a solitary figure reminiscent of Poe in its namesake poem. Color is used to full effect in each story; the garish colors of an ill-fated party foreshadow impending doom, while the saturated red surrounding a man about to die only serves to heighten the emotional intensity. Title pages include a key to the main themes and year of publication, while an author’s note provides an overview of Poe’s life and insight into each story and poem. A welcome addition for fans of graphic horror.

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2017)
Graphic novelist Hinds (The Odyssey, rev. 11/10; Macbeth, rev. 3/15) continues his tour through the classics as he takes on the work of Edgar Allan Poe, adapting three poems (“Annabel Lee,” “The Bells,” and “The Raven”) and four stories (“The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”). A “Poe Checklist” at the beginning enumerates a dozen common themes and tropes (e.g., “creepy animals,” “premature burial”), and the title page for each entry lists those that are pertinent. As always, Hinds’s adaptations lean heavily on the original language of the text with an eye toward accessibility for the modern reader and an understanding that the illustrations will carry a good portion of the narrative. Hinds’s varied illustrations are a good match for Poe’s atmospheric blend of horror and mystery. The pictures are often dark and shadowy, but color is used judiciously throughout to great effect; “The Masque of the Red Death” has abundant flourishes of red, for example, while “The Raven” is in black and white. Striking imagery, too, catches the eye and the imagination. The final spread of “The Bells” looks up into a bright full moon to see not just the church bell but also the ghouls looking like veritable gargoyles come to life. An appended author’s note gives general background on Poe and additional insight into each story or poem. jonathan hunt

About the Author

Gareth Hinds is the acclaimed creator of the graphic novels Macbeth, The Odyssey, Beowulf, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and King Lear. Gareth Hinds lives near Washington, D.C.

Her website is www.garethhinds.com

Around the Web

Poe: Stories and Poems on Amazon

Poe: Stories and Poems on Goodreads

Poe: Stories and Poems on JLG

Poe: Stories and Poems Publisher Page

Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller

Elizabeth & Zenobia by Jessica Miller. September 19, 2017. Harry N. Abrams, 208 p. ISBN: 9781419727245.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.8; Lexile: 670.

Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her scientist father, timid Elizabeth Murmur has only her fearless friend, Zenobia, for company. And Zenobia’s company can be very trying! When Elizabeth’s father takes them to live in his family home, Witheringe House, Zenobia becomes obsessed with finding a ghost in the creepy old mansion and forces Elizabeth to hold séances and wander the rooms at night. With Zenobia’s constant pushing, Elizabeth investigates the history of the house and learns that it does hold a terrible secret: Her father’s younger sister disappeared from the grounds without a trace years ago.

Elizabeth and Zenobia is a wonderfully compelling middle-grade story about friendship, courage, and the power of the imagination.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Eerie content

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 4-7. Elizabeth’s best friend Zenobia (others might claim she’s imaginary, but she’s vividly real to Elizabeth) is utterly convinced there’s a ghost at Witheringe House, and she’s determined to use all her divining skills to find it. Elizabeth is terrified at the prospect, but she joins the hunt anyway, especially after mysterious pages of a fairy tale about a magical kingdom of plants appear in a book only at midnight, and she learns about her father’s late sister, Tourmaline, who disappeared from Witheringe House at age seven. Elizabeth and Zenobia’s polar-opposite personalities make the mood pretty playful at the beginning, but debut author Miller keeps the story certifiably eerie, thanks to a creepy gardener, weed-choked hedge maze, and mutating wallpaper in the abandoned nursery. As Elizabeth gets braver and more insistent on finding Tourmaline, Miller amplifies the wondrous-yet-weird elements of Witheringe House until they snowball into ghastly, creeping nightmares. Her spare, evocative language and direct sentences contribute to the suspenseful pacing, particularly toward the end, when the Plant Kingdom gets truly invasive. Comical characters, ghost story tropes, and a lively pair of intrepid protagonists help keep this spooky novel from getting too scary, and Bryksenkova’s faux-naïf illustrations contribute. Fans of Kenneth Oppel’s The Nest (2015) will appreciate this similarly atmospheric, haunting tale.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 15, 2017)
Debut novelist Miller concocts a blend of Gothic horror and spine-tingling mystery. Elizabeth feels lonely and forgotten when her father moves her to his ancestral home, Witheringe House, after her mother abandons the two of them. At least best friend Zenobia has come along, though with her contrary nature, Zenobia is not exactly a comfort. She’s also not exactly real. That is, not to anyone except Elizabeth. Aussie Miller sets her tale in the gauzy nebulousness of the early 20th century, delivering a stunning slow burn full of creepy atmospheric tension and heartbreaking loneliness. The back-and-forth dialogue between Elizabeth and her imaginary companion is laced with tension—give and take—illustrating the tumultuous extremes of Elizabeth’s psyche. Add a family nursery and wallpaper gardens in which the plant life appears real, a family cemetery, plus an alter ego in search of spirits from beyond and an ending as unpredictable as the beginning or middle—and what readers get is a fascinating tale that feels like Edgar Allen Poe, revisited. Miller’s painstaking crafting of language and attention to atmospheric detail create a clever story where nothing is as it seems. Drawings reminiscent of Gorey and references to gloomy classic poetry add beguiling texture. Eerie and dazzling—a perfect book for a dark and stormy afternoon or a favorite graveyard reading spot. (Horror. 9-13)

About the Author

Jessica Miller is a children’s writer and PhD student from Brisbane, Australia. She currently lives in Germany. Elizabeth and Zenobia is her first novel.

 

Around the Web

Elizabeth and Zenobia on Amazon

Elizabeth and Zenobia on Goodreads

Elizabeth and Zenobia on JLG

Elizabeth and Zenobia Publisher Page