Rousing adventures for young tomb robbers and delvers into realms better left to the dead.


From the Lockwood & Co. series , Vol. 2

An occult portal and its spectral guardian nearly cut short the careers of three rising young ghost hunters in this madcap sequel to The Screaming Staircase (2013).

Continuing their predilection for falling into predicaments that require rapier work and fast exits, psychic detection agents Lockwood, George and Lucy are reluctantly hired by Scotland Yard to track down a mystical old “bone-glass” no sooner found in the arms of a moldering exhumed corpse than stolen. As everyone who has looked into this small but potent artifact seems to have either been driven insane or eaten by rats (or both), police and psychic black marketeers are equally eager to get their hands on it. In fine form, Stroud sends Lockwood & Co. on a trail that leads from an upper-crust social event to the mucky margins of the Thames and into dust-ups with thugs, rival agents and carloads of ectoplasmic horrors that can kill with just a touch. Lucy’s cautionary “If you’re easily icked-out, you might want to skip the rest of this paragraph…” goes for more than one grisly passage. For all their internecine squabbling, the three protagonists make a redoubtable team—and their supporting cast, led by the sneering titular skull in a jar, adds color and complications aplenty.

Rousing adventures for young tomb robbers and delvers into realms better left to the dead. (Ghost adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-6492-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Ghostwritten for a fictional 13-year-old character on the ABC Family network show Secret Life of the American Teenager, this September-to-August journal recaps the first season and part of the second—from 15-year-old sister Amy’s revelation that she’s pregnant through her parents’ divorce and the news that her mother herself is expecting. In the snarky tone she generally takes onscreen, narrator Ashley relates events from her own point of view and elaborates on them in long, wordy entries replete with adolescent self-assurance. Of a run-in with the school principal, for instance: “I think the real reason I got into trouble was because I expressed my individuality. It tends to scare authority figures when someone my age does that.” This “enhanced” e-book includes 10 brief video clips embedded in the general vicinity of their relevant passages. There is also a closing page of links to expedite the posting of reader ratings and reviews. Aside from a pair of footnotes pushed to a screen at the end, far away from their original contexts, the translation to digital format works seamlessly for reading/viewing in either single-page/portrait or double-page/landscape orientation. There’s enough standard-issue teen and domestic drama here to keep fans of such fare reading, but devotees of the show may be disappointed at the lack of significant new content, either in the narrative itself or in the e-book’s media features. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 22, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4013-9596-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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Unfortunate Events galore, served with relish.


The creator of such picture books as Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance (1999) and Three Nasty Gnarlies (2003) dishes up a first novel seasoned with the same delightfully twisted, ghoulish sensibility.

Immediately upon arriving in Awkward Falls, a small Manitoba town known for its canned sauerkraut and its Asylum for the Dangerously Insane (“both,” notes the narrator, “to be avoided at all costs, as one was likely to cause gas, and the other, death.”), 12-year-old Josephine meets agemate Thaddeus Hibble. Thaddeus is a scientific genius who has lived alone since infancy on an all–junk-food diet supplied by a robot butler and paid for by re-animating the dead pets of local matrons. Together the two are plunged into personal danger and worse at the clutching hands of hunchbacked lunatic cannibal Fetid Stenchley, former lab assistant and Asylum escapee. With aid from a supporting cast of colorful locals, a half-rotted corpse brought back to partial life and a ravening herd of chimerical monsters created in a secret biotechnology lab, Graves crafts a quick-moving plot composed of macabre twists. These are made all the ickier for being presented in significant part from Stenchley’s point of view. Wordless opening and closing sequences, plus a handful of interior illustrations, both fill in background detail and intensify the overall macabre atmosphere. The central characters receive just, if, under the circumstances, not necessarily final deserts.

Unfortunate Events galore, served with relish. (finished illustrations not seen) (Melodrama. 11-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7814-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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