Potent, atmospheric, and wholly satisfying.

THE RIVER HAS TEETH

When girls start disappearing in a Tennessee nature park, a family of local witches worries they’ll be blamed.

The Lloyds have lived on the Bend—an area bordering a river and the nature park—for generations, and the land is imbued with their Scottish forebears’ magic. The Bend, not their bloodline, is the source of the Lloyds’ power, but lately it’s felt corrupted, making their spells go awry and frightening off all but the most desperate customers. So when Natasha Greymont asks for help finding her missing sister, Rochelle, Della Lloyd is reluctant. The Greymonts’ wealth and status should grant them access to resources Della can’t even imagine, and solving the mystery may in turn destroy Della’s own family. But Natasha isn’t what she seems, and the two girls, both White, are irresistibly drawn together. Alternating chronological perspectives map their shift from antagonism to trust. There is a familiar, genuine rapport that grounds the recurring theme of chosen family between Natasha, who’s bi, and her pansexual best friend, Georgia Greer, who is cued as Black, as well as with Rochelle’s best friend, Margo Yoon, who is Korean and pansexual. This genre-blending contemporary thriller offers a searing indictment of men who prey on women while the book’s fantasy elements offer a form of revenge and resolution. The broad narrative strokes that address the book’s intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender will prompt important conversations by readers.

Potent, atmospheric, and wholly satisfying. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-289425-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • New York Times Bestseller

THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS

A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evident in names and specific scenes, but familiar themes of family, loyalty, and identity bear new significance in Gong’s inventive adaptation. Language is a tool wielded deftly by the multilingual characters, who switch easily among English, French, Shanghainese, Russian, and more, with Mandarin as the primary dialect for Chinese phrases. A strong supporting cast that includes a trans girl completes this striking debut.

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5769-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more