Tag Archives: paranormal

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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Strangers by David A. Robertson

Strangers by David A. Robertson. October 10, 2017. HighWater Press, 216 p. ISBN: 9781553796763.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 630.

When Cole Harper is compelled to return to Wounded Sky First Nation, he finds his community in chaos: a series of shocking murders, a mysterious illness ravaging the residents, and reemerging questions about Cole’s role in the tragedy that drove him away 10 years ago. With the aid of an unhelpful spirit, a disfigured ghost, and his two oldest friends, Cole tries to figure out his purpose, and unravel the mysteries he left behind a decade ago. Will he find the answers in time to save his community?

Strangers is the first novel in The Reckoner series by David Alexander Robertson, award–winning writer, and author of HighWater Press’ acclaimed children’s book When We Were Alone.

Part of Series:  The Reckoner (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2017)
A YA fantasy tells the story of a teen returning home to seek redemption. High school basketball star Cole Harper hasn’t been back to his Canadian hometown of Wounded Sky in 10 years. But when a friend from childhood asks him to return, he can’t bring himself to refuse. When he arrives, it becomes clear that it isn’t just Cole who has been harboring ill feelings in the intervening years. Many members of his First Nation band are still angry at Cole over how he survived the school fire that killed others long ago—and who he helped save during it. When Cole confronts Ashley, the friend who begged him to return, he learns that it was actually someone else using Ashley’s phone: an anthropomorphic coyote spirit who goes by the name of Choch. As surprised as Cole is to have a coyote talking to him, he recognizes that Choch is the same figure who appeared to him during the previous tragedy, offering him the power to save his friends at the cost of the deaths of others. Now he has a new offer for the teen: death is coming to Wounded Sky, and it will claim everyone in Cole’s band unless he can find a way to stop it. Aided by his two best friends from childhood as well as the ghost of another classmate and the coyote spirit himself, Cole must try to redeem his past by preserving the future for as many people as he can. In this series opener, Robertson (When We Were Alone, 2016, etc.) writes in a taut prose that harnesses sensory details to subtly accrue tension: “Sounds were more intimate inside the rink: the shred of metal against ice, the snap of wood against rubber, the collision of body against body, then body against board; and finally, the crowd and its fickle crescendo.” The tone deftly oscillates between moodiness and humor, capturing the angst of the tale’s teens without becoming self-serious. Though this is very much an archetypal story, the blend of Native American fantasy elements and a noirish Canadian setting make this a memorable addition to the genre. A promising first episode of a new series with a striking hero and a coyote spirit.

About the Author

David A. Robertson is an award-winning writer. His books include When We Were Alone (Governor General’s Literary Award winner, McNally Robinson Best Book For Young People winner, TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award finalist), Will I See? (winner Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award Graphic Novel Category), and the YA novel Strangers. David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues.

David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg. His website is www.darobertson.ca.

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The Altered History of Willow Sparks by Tara O’Connor

The Altered History of Willow Sparks by Tara O’Connor. March 6, 2018. Oni Press, 152 p. ISBN: 9781620104507.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 300.

What happens when you can finally get everything you ever wanted?

Willow Sparks and her best friend Georgia Pratt are at the bottom of the social ladder at Twin Pines High School, just trying to get through each day relatively unscathed. But when Willow finds a mysterious book that allows her to literally change her life, it feels like her luck is finally turning. As she becomes more and more popular with each entry into the book, her old life, including her friendship with Georgia, seems miles away. Yet as Willow will discover, every action has a reaction, and the future has unusual—even dangerous—ways of protecting itself

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Underage drinking, Bullying

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2017)
Relentlessly bullied by the popular clique, the titular protagonist discovers an unexpected way to change her future.Plagued with tragically uncool hair and unfortunate acne, Willow Sparks certainly is not a member of the popular crowd. However, her two best friends, Georgia and Gary, are loyal, and together the trio navigates the social atrocities of their high school. While at her job at the local library, Willow finds herself cornered by her mean-girl nemeses and, after a violent episode, unearths a secret library within the library that’s filled with unusual books. She finds a mysterious tome bearing her name that allows her to write her own future—but with devastating effects. While the semi-Faustian trope certainly is not new, O’Connor’s graphic-novel spin on it is fun and captivating. Her art is expressive and deftly captures all the angst and action through a cinematic lens. However, as Willow’s self-conceived plans unravel, the plotting goes with it, leaving the strong beginning floundering through a hasty resolution. While Willow is fully fleshed out, the secondary characters—including best friend Georgia and Willow’s librarian boss—are frustratingly not as well-developed. Despite these quibbles, O’Connor’s offering is an enjoyable and quick dip into the dark side of wish fulfillment. Main character Willow is white, as is Gary, and Georgia is Asian. An intriguing and incisive plot that starts promisingly but ultimately falls flat. (Graphic fantasy. 12-16)

Publishers Weekly (November 20, 2017)
Willow Sparks just wants to get through high school without students in popular cliques harassing her and teachers embarrassing her. After bullies show up at the library where she works and push her down a flight of stairs, she discovers a secret underground wing-and a book with her name on it. By writing in the book, she can reshape her future, and soon she’s ditching her best friends Georgia and Gary to hang out with the cool kids. The pale lavender-gray coloring of O’Connor’s two-tone cartooning fits the eerie, brooding atmosphere of this magic-inflected cautionary tale. But although O’Connor’s talents as an artist aren’t in question-the torments that Willow and her friends face in gym class, school bathrooms, and elsewhere feel painfully real-the overall story is rushed and too-tidily resolved. Even considering the influence of the magical book, the speed with which Willow drops her friends is jarring, and their own subplots get short shrift (Georgia is moving out of town, and Gary is nervously starting to come out to family and friends). It’s an intriguing story that doesn’t have enough space to reach its full potential. Ages 13-up. (Feb.)

About the Author

Tara is a cartoonist currently residing in the New Jersey wilderness. When she’s not drawing comics, she’s teaching them. She drinks way too much tea and coffee, and on any given day there’s a 90% chance that every meal she had was cereal.

 

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A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge. October 17, 2017. Amulet Books, 416 p. ISBN: 9781419725722.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 800.

This is the story of a bear-hearted girl . . .

Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide.
Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding.

Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard.

And now there’s a spirit inside her.

The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, and it may be her only defence when she is sent to live with her father’s rich and powerful ancestors. There is talk of civil war, and they need people like her to protect their dark and terrible family secret.

But as she plans her escape and heads out into a country torn apart by war, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death.”

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, War, Animal cruelty, Murder, Death of a parent, Misogyny

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 7-12. In her first novel since The Lie Tree (2016), Hardinge again summons history and fantasy, intermingling them in a most unusual way. Set against a backdrop of the English Civil War, the story opens in a small Puritan village, where a girl named Makepeace wrestles with vivid nightmares. When her mother is accidentally killed, the girl is sent to her father’s family, of whom she knows nothing. The Fellmottes, it turns out, are an old aristocratic clan with an insidious secret—they are able to “house” the spirits of the dead, a gift they have twisted, and the inherited cause of Makepeace’s clawing nightmares. The narrative opens slowly as Hardinge lays deliberate groundwork and conjures a palpably eerie atmosphere, which mounts in horror as the story progresses. It picks up after Makepeace, now 15, has spent two years as a kitchen girl at the Fellmotte estate, gathering information about the family. The plot becomes populated by spymistresses—whose ranks Makepeace fleetingly joins—and vengeful spirits, and is punctuated by her escape attempts and wartime battles. Yet much of the action unfolds in Makepeace’s head, as she acquires her own coterie of ghosts, most memorably that of an ill-treated bear. Hardinge’s writing is stunning, and readers will be taken hostage by its intensity, fascinating developments, and the fierce, compassionate girl leading the charge.

Horn Book Magazine (January/February, 2018)
Hardinge’s (The Lie Tree, rev. 5/16) latest tour de force is set during the reign of King Charles I against the backdrop of the 1600s English Civil War and is, as unlikely as it sounds, something of a mash-up of The Wizard of Oz and Get Out. When the orphan Makepeace is sent to live as a servant in the stronghold of the aristocratic Fellmotte family (she’s an illegitimate relation), she realizes that she shares the family’s ability to house the spirits of the dead–which the Fellmottes use to extend the lives and power of their Elders. Makepeace has already unwittingly absorbed the ghost of a young bear, whose “wild brute” behavior causes her difficulties at first. When her half-brother and only friend James runs away to join the regiment, taking the royal charter that grants permission for the nefarious Fellmotte “traditions” with him, and is then made an unwilling vessel for the Elders, Makepeace sets off to rescue him–and find the charter. On her fraught-with-perils journey, she collects more “passenger” ghost companions, from a doctor to a soldier to a mysterious and seemingly sinister noblewoman. Makepeace is a resourceful, brave, and intelligent protagonist, and readers will root for her and James’s triumph over the Fellmotte ghosts. The visceral immediacy of Hardinge’s prose (at times almost painful in its plethora of sensory details and its bleakness) can sometimes be unsettling, but the prose itself is always original and invigorating: “Lord Fellmotte was not a man. He was an ancient committee. A parliament of deathly rooks in a dying tree.” martha v. parravano

About the Author

Frances Hardinge spent her childhood in a huge, isolated old house in a small, strange village, and the two things inspired her to write strange, magical stories from an early age. She studied English at Oxford University and now lives in Oxford, England.

Her website is www.franceshardinge.com

 

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Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorarfor. October 3, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 477 p. ISBN: 9780670785612.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.

Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Sequel to: Akata Witch

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Underage drinking, Smoking, Language, Hazing, Bullying, Racial slur

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 7-10. This highly anticipated sequel to Akata Witch (2011) begins a year after Sunny unearthed secrets pertaining to her heritage and joined the secret Leopard Society. Plagued by strange dreams, Sunny endeavors to increase her magical powers by studying with her demanding mentor, and she continues to grapple with secrets that lie within her peculiar and wondrous Nsibidi book. However, the fate of humanity rests on her shoulders and time is not a luxury she has. Soon, she must step into her destiny and fight a looming, apocalyptic battle. If she loses or isn’t up to the task, it will spell catastrophe for all. While the story’s beginning is a bit jarring and doesn’t immediately sweep you away, the feeling is fleeting. A few chapters in, the reader gets tangled up in Sunny’s journey in the most delicious of ways. The lush world and high-stakes plot are fun, imaginative, timely, and authentic. Sunny as a character is beautiful, strong, and resilient, and her host of friends and allies are well-drawn and compelling, adding to the magic of the story. Okorafor’s novel will ensnare readers and keep them turning pages until the very end to see if and how Sunny fulfills the tremendous destiny that awaits her.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2017)
Ekwensu, the supernatural “masquerade” whom Sunny and her coven defeated in the first installment in this contemporary Nigeria-set fantasy series (Akata Witch, rev. 5/11), is pushing back through into this world, and when she does, she ruthlessly rips Sunny’s spirit face away from her. Separated from their spirit faces, most Leopard People would die, but Sunny’s visions of a city of smoke guide her and her coven to a place in Lagos where the living world and the wilderness (the spirit world) coincide. There Sunny and her now-independent spirit face, the ancient spirit Anyanwu, can take on Ekwensu before she destroys the earth. Although the plot reaches its destination by a circuitous route, each episode works on its own, and the detours do eventually tie into the story arc. Sunny, who endures discrimination because of her albinism, grows stronger physically and emotionally in this volume, showing off new soccer skills and choosing to break Leopard Society rules for a greater purpose. Reader assumptions about Nigeria will be broadened by details showing, yes, traditional ceremonies but also flat-screen TVs, while the centuries-old (but-still-new-to-most-readers) West African mythological foundation will satisfy fans eager for more of Okorafor’s signature brand of magic. anita l. burkam

About the Author

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American author of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults and a professor at the University at Buffalo, New York. Her works include Who Fears Death, the Binti novella trilogy, the Book of Phoenix, the Akata books and Lagoon. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards and her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature.

She lives with her daughter Anyaugo and family in Illinois.  Her website is www.nnedi.com

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The Dire King by William Ritter

The Dire King by William Ritter. August 22, 2017. Algonquin Young Readers, 352 p. ISBN: 9781616206703.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 730.

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push the earth and the otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve daily mysteries in New Fiddleham, New England—like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why the undead are appearing around town.

Sequel to: Ghostly Echoes

Part of series: Jackaby (Book 4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes

 

Video Review

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 15, 2017)
A paranormal private investigator and his clever companion make a last stand against the forces of chaos in this fourth and final book. As an assistant to eccentric detective/seer R.F. Jackaby, Abigail Rook experiences magic, mysteries, and romance. A “lady of science and reason” who accepts the supernatural, Rook prizes her madcap American adventures over her comfortable yet confining British childhood, but she finds her new home threatened by war. As a wave of racist attacks turns their whimsical house at 926 Augur Ln. into a cryptozoological asylum, Jackaby, Rook, and resident ghost Jenny Cavanaugh take a new case and uncover a bigger conspiracy. Hunting mythical talismans, the trio discovers the veil between the mundane world and that of the Annwyn (fae) weakening and the Unseelie armies of the Dire King gathering. Jackaby is a delightful supernaturalist Sherlock, but Rook carries the story, narrating with dry wit, alliteration, and an appreciation for the absurd; faced with war, bureaucrats, and a diabolical life-sucking machine, Rook frets about a potential proposal from her Om Caini (lycanthropic) swain, Charlie. Ritter sets his story in a geographically nonspecific, slightly steampunk 1890s New England port city. It’s helmed by a trio of white protagonists but offers a pointed and timely message about pluralism and the value of bridges over barriers. A humorous, energetic, action-packed, and magical conclusion. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

School Library Journal (August 1, 2017)
Gr 7 Up-The fourth and final book in the series sees Abigail Rook, Jackaby’s assistant, take the lead in this preternatural mystery. Previous familiarity with the characters is advised but is not necessary to follow the plot. In 19th-century New Fiddleham, New England, a mysterious threat from the ostensibly dead Dire King endangers everyone when the veil between this world and the fairy world, Annwyn, threatens to fall. Jackaby and Abigail are joined by a multitude of supernatural creatures, including Miss Rook’s shape-shifter boyfriend Charlie and housemate/ghost Jenny who is working on her ability to become corporeal with somewhat mixed results. The group ventures between worlds trying to figure out if the Dire King has returned, or if someone has picked up his mantle. Mayor Spade has also declared war on supernatural creatures; no one is safe in this fast-paced tale. The main characters struggle in battle and with figuring out what their future holds, which leads to an unpredictable conclusion. Though the overall plot is a fairly straightforward whodunit mystery, twists and turns provide for action-packed pages. Events that have been heavily foreshadowed throughout will come to fruition in a satisfying ending that offers tantalizing hints of the characters’ fortunes. This will most appeal to series fans and those who enjoy teen detective novels like A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro or Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star. VERDICT A strong purchase where the series is already popular.-Rebecca Greer, Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, FL

About the Author

William Ritter is an Oregon author and educator. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark. The Dire King is the fourth and final book in his acclaimed New York Times bestselling Jackaby series.

His website is rwillritter.wordpress.com

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The Magician and the Spirits by Deborah Noyes

The Magician and the Spirits by Deborah Noyes. August 22, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 160 p. ISBN: 9780803740181.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.9; Lexile: 1250.

A century ago, the curious idea that spirits not only survive death but can be contacted on the “other side” was widespread. Psychic mediums led countless seances, claiming to connect the grieving with their lost relations through everything from frenzied trance writing to sticky expulsions of ectoplasm.

The craze caught Harry Houdini’s attention. Well-known by then as most renowned magician and escape artist, he began to investigate these spiritual phenomena. Are ghosts real? Can we communicate with them? Catch them in photographs? Or are all mediums “flim-flammers,” employing tricks and illusions like Houdini himself?

Peopled with odd and fascinating characters, Houdini’s gripping quest will excite readers’ universal wonderment with life, death, and the possibility of the Beyond.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Murder, Suicide

 

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 19))
Grades 5-8. Plenty has been written about Houdini’s iconic escape routines and stage magic, but in this biography, Noyes focuses on a lesser-known facet of his career: his mission to debunk spiritualists. After his mother died, Houdini wanted to believe in the possibility of contact from beyond the grave. But his career gave him singular insight into tricks mediums deployed during seances, and, angered by the thought of mediums swindling grief-stricken people, he became determined to reveal the fakery of spiritualism. While describing Houdini’s campaign to unmask fraudulent mediums, Noyes offers compelling tidbits about the many ways spiritualists performed their tricks, and helpful historical context for the popularity of spiritualism. Houdini’s feud with avowed spiritualist Arthur Conan Doyle is particularly fascinating, though the details of their clash get a bit lost. Still, there’s plenty of intriguing information here, often in eye-catching inset boxes with additional background, and Noyes’ attention to Houdini’s outsize personality—a key component of his campaign against spiritualists—adds compelling depth. A worthwhile addition to any nonfiction section, and ideal for kids intrigued by historical oddities.

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2017)
There was a time, not long ago, when many people believed that death was no barrier to staying connected with loved ones. The idea was enthusiastically embraced by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the logically minded Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle saw nothing illogical in the ability of psychic mediums to connect the grief-stricken with their lost relations. A true believer and zealous evangelist for spiritualism, Conan Doyle believed such phenomena as automatic writing, frenzied trances, disembodied voices, levitating tables, ghost photography, and oral expulsions of ectoplasm were real and perfectly rational. Conan Doyle’s friend Harry Houdini was dubious. The most renowned magician and escape artist of his time knew plenty about tricking audiences, and his investigations into these spiritual phenomena convinced him that mediums used trickery and illusion to dupe people like his friend. Noyes’ engaging narrative explores how Houdini’s public crusade to expose spiritualism as bunk and mediums as frauds strained his relationship with Conan Doyle. The account is illustrated with archival material and densely populated with odd, outrageous characters such as D.D. Home, whose levitation acts saw him sailing out windows feet first, and Eva C. who expelled “ectoplasm” from her mouth during séances. Sidebars take readers down numerous, entertaining detours. A compelling true story of magic, ghosts, science, friendship, deception, feuding, and sleuthing told with great flair. (photos, source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Deborah Noyes is the author of nonfiction and fiction for young readers and adults, including Ten Days a MadwomanEncyclopedia of the End, One Kingdom, and The Ghosts of Kerfol. She has also compiled and edited the short story anthologies Gothic!, The Restless Dead, and Sideshow. 

She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her website is www.deborahnoyes.com

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Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older

Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older. September 12, 2017. Arthur A. Levine Books, 368 p. ISBN: 9780545952828.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 670.

Shadowhouse rising

Sierra and her friends love their new lives as shadowshapers, making art and creating change with the spirits of Brooklyn. Then Sierra receives a strange card depicting a beast called the Hound of Light—an image from the enigmatic, influential Deck of Worlds. The Deck tracks the players and powers of all the magical houses in the city, and when the real Hound begins to stalk Sierra through the streets, the shadowshapers know their next battle has arrived.

Worlds in revolution

Sierra and Shadowhouse have been thrust into an ancient struggle with enemies old and new—a struggle they didn’t want, but are determined to win. Revolution is brewing in the real world as well, as the shadowshapers lead the fight against systems that oppress their community. To protect her family and friends in every sphere, Sierra must take down the Hound and master the Deck of Worlds…or else she could lose all the things that matter most.

Part of Series: The Shadowshaper Cipher (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Racism, Confrontations with police

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 8-11. With the same keen eye for the power of art and a sly commentary on the insidious nature of racism and white supremacy—as well as a deft handle on zippy teenage banter and cinematic pacing—Older delivers a fantastic follow-up to his best-selling Shadowshaper (2015), which not only intensifies the stakes of the first book but also expands the scope of his well-wrought, vivid world building. When Sierra receives a creepy card and a dire warning about coming conflict, at first she thinks nothing of it. But that card is part of the enigmatic Deck of Worlds, which reveals the four major houses locked in an age-old power struggle. Unbeknownst to Sierra, she and her shadowshapers are one of those houses, and other houses are in hot pursuit of their power. Older deepens the mythology of shadowshaping in this installment, subtly showcasing how cultural heritage, even the trauma of ancestors, can become a power to wield rather than a burden to bear, not to mention how the history of colonization bleeds into contemporary culture. Plenty of elements have a ripped-from-the-headlines feel, but Older expertly integrates those moments into the wider story and keeps the narrative solidly on Sierra and her quest. The expanding cast of well-rounded characters, clearly choreographed action, and foreshadowing of installments to come will have fantasy fans eagerly awaiting more of this dynamic, smart series.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2017)
Sierra and the shadowshapers are back in this sequel to Shadowshaper (2015).A few months after the close of Shadowshaper, Nuyorican Sierra Santiago has grown in her shadowshaping powers but feels overwhelmed by her new role as Lucera, head of Shadowhouse. One night in Prospect Park, a girl from school attempts to give Sierra a creepy playing card from the Deck of Worlds, warning Sierra that the Deck is in play again and the Sorrows (who tried to wipe out the shadowshapers in the last book) are out to get them once more. Meanwhile, Older paints a compelling picture of contemporary life for black and brown teens in cities: Afro-Latinx Sierra and her friends deal with police harassment and brutality, both on the streets of Bed-Stuy and at school, themes that feel especially timely and relevant. When Sierra learns the Sorrows want her to join them in order to complete their magic, she must take a dangerous chance in order to protect herself and those that she loves. Older excels at crafting teen dialogue that feels authentic, and props to everyone involved for not othering the Spanish language. This second volume features a tighter plot and smoother pacing than the first, and the ending will leave readers eagerly awaiting the further adventures of Sierra and her friends. Lit. (Urban fantasy. 14-adult)

About the Author

Daniel José Older is the New York Times bestselling author of the Young Adult series the Shadowshaper Cypher (Scholastic), the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series (Penguin), and the upcoming Middle Grade sci-fi adventure Flood City (Scholastic). He won the International Latino Book Award and has been nominated for the Kirkus Prize, the Mythopoeic Award, the Locus Award, the Andre Norton Award, and yes, the World Fantasy Award. Shadowshaper was named one of Esquire’s 80 Books Every Person Should Read.

His website is www.danieljoseolder.net

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Shadowhouse Fall on Amazon

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Shadowhouse Fall  on JLG

Shadowhouse Fall  Publisher Page

A Million Junes by Emily Henry

A Million Junes by Emily Henry. May 16, 2017. Razorbill, 350 p. ISBN: 9780448493961.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 760.

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. 

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Underage drinking

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Jack (aka June) O’Donnell IV lives in a place where the divide between the real world and that of ghosts and spirits is thin. These ethereal forces sustain a generations-old feud between the O’Donnells and the Angerts, but when June meets Saul Angert, she only knows he’s beautiful and a kindred soul. The two embark on an odyssey to recover memories of those they loved, learn the truth of their shared history, and maybe put the long feud to rest. With a firm nod to Romeo and Juliet, this supernatural mystery is a gift to readers’ imagination. There are coywolves (a mix of coyote and wolf) who steal shoes so that people can reach the spirit world; “Whites,” puffballs that embody memories that act as clues; and relatable characters tethered and anchored by love. The first-person narrative supports a textured story that is an exploration of duty, family, and faith and yet doesn’t forget the humor of everyday life. Try it with fans of John Green or Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers (2015).

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2017)
In a town where magic is alive and cherries taste like the sun, the children of two rival families must break a curse that’s haunted them for generations and learn what it means to live with loss.Jack O’Donnell IV—called Jack, Jackie, Junior, or June—knows two things for sure. First, she will always be her father’s daughter, even though he passed when she was 8. Second, she must never, ever interact with the Angerts, or terrible things will happen to both families. But when Saul Angert returns to town and the two literally bump into each other, their chemistry is undeniable—as is the fact that they’re suddenly able to enter their deceased loved ones’ memories. As the recollections lead them closer to the truth about the O’Donnell-Angert vitriol, they also reveal that the father June grew up worshipping was more complicated than he seemed. Early on, readers will fall for the teens’ witty repartee and June’s father’s tall tales, but Henry’s (The Love That Split the World, 2016) beautifully crafted if largely white world, which is rich with a strong best friendship, a complicated writing teacher, and a dreamlike touch—becomes unwieldy as fantasy takes over. A potential treat for readers who enjoy magical realism, but there are stronger examples of the genre, such as Laura Ruby’s Printz-winning Bone Gap. (Magical realism. 12-16)

About the Author

Emily Henry is the author of The Love That Split the World. She is a full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it.

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A Million Junes on Amazon

A Million Junes on Goodreads

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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.

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The Inn Between on Amazon

The Inn Between on Goodreads

The Inn Between on JLG

The Inn Between Publisher Page