Passionate mystery or speculative fiction fans should look elsewhere.


A revised version of the author’s first novel, Blackwood (2012).

Miranda Blackwood, the town “freak,” is cursed, along with her family, to remain on Roanoke Island (the site of the Lost Colony in North Carolina). Grant Rawling, grandson of the “legendary Witch of Roanoke Island,” was sent away to a boarding school nearly four years ago after his ability to hear the spirits of the dead emerged. Mystery develops when Miranda begins seeing a phantom ship and, like the original colonists, 114 islanders disappear. At a complete loss for clues, police chief Rawling summons his son back to Roanoke Island to help. The 17-year-olds, both evidently white given their ancestry, alternate narration. The premise of this speculative novel is intriguing: the spirit of alchemist John Dee has returned to fulfill his original plan of creating a new colony of immortals. The execution, however, is clunky, repetitive, and awkward as the teens continually scramble around the small island, trying to outwit a range of stereotyped characters from the villainous Dee to a crackpot conspiracy theorist to law enforcement agents. Except for one f-bomb (Miranda usually uses the Battlestar Galactica expletive “frak”), this story may be suited for those looking for “clean” reads with no sex or graphic violence, but that’s about all it has going for it.

Passionate mystery or speculative fiction fans should look elsewhere. (Speculative fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63079-076-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Switch/Capstone

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


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)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.


Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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