An entertaining and fast-paced supernatural tale.

THE PROBLEM AT WISTERIA GARDENS

A PEKIN DEWLAP MYSTERY #3

From the Pekin Dewlap Mystery series , Vol. 3

Three high school ghostbusters investigate a haunted antiques shop in this YA mystery.

In their first two adventures, Pekin Dewlap and her friends Scout and Amber of Springdale tackled supernatural disturbances with great success, forming a business called The Ghost Company. This summer, the teenagers have a new client in Matt Cooley. Poltergeistlike phenomena in his antiques shop are scaring away customers. With help from their medium friend Mildew Willingham and Miranda Talbert, a specter they previously rescued who has stuck around, the friends make contact with the shop’s ghost. She’s Althea, Matt’s recently deceased mother, who says she’s lonely and only wants her son to notice her: “When Mattie didn’t pay any attention to me, I got madder and madder.” Matt is intensely Type A and doesn’t possess the calm that might allow him to see or hear her, but he agrees to regular get-togethers. Unfortunately, it soon becomes evident that Althea’s true purpose is more nefarious. The Ghosties are challenged to perform a removal ritual that will stick while Pekin deals with jealousy and insecurity that could threaten her relationship with Scout, a childhood friendship that has recently become romantic. In this third series outing, McCord offers the genuinely disturbing prospect of a ghost intending to drain her own son’s life energy. The author keeps this plot element from becoming overly dark through the contrast of more mundane teenage concerns, such as Pekin’s overreaction to a pretty girl’s flirting with her boyfriend. The Ghosties are wholesome but not prissy, with snarky irreverence that helps relieve the tension, as when Althea grumpily declares she’s not an old woman—just older: “ ‘And that’s as old as you’re going to get,’ Scout said.” Efficient storytelling keeps the plot moving quickly toward its satisfying resolution.

An entertaining and fast-paced supernatural tale.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-952112-29-4

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2021

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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