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

THE WHISPERING SKULL

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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A lovely, eerie adventure that balances the ancient magic with its protagonist's very real character growth

BONE JACK

In a grim season, one rural tradition seems less like a boys' romp and more like a gateway for the old powers.

This ought to be a banner year for 13-year-old Ash, finally selected as the stag boy. As the lead runner in his British town's annual Stag Chase, Ash should be preparing to race his best friend, Mark, and the other boys their age, hounds to his stag. If only the whole town weren't shattered with grief. A foot-and-mouth outbreak has devastated the area, with tragic consequences; Mark's dad hanged himself in the barn. Ash's own father, an army captain, has returned from the war—afflicted with PTSD, haunted by visions and rising alcoholism. Even the Stag Chase itself seems corrupted. Ash sees creepy crows in the woods, skulls draped in the trees, ghost stag boys, and (most uncanny) Mark living in the woods, dressed in rags and daubed with clay. The old ways are rising, Mark insists, and the stag boy's destiny will not be a happy one. In haunting, lyrical prose, Ash tries to protect himself from Bone Jack the soul-taker while learning to be a better son and friend. With a deft hand, Crowe twines the ancient folk motifs around her evocation of modern Britain—with one exception: characters’ races go unspecified, leaching it of its multicultural vigor.

A lovely, eerie adventure that balances the ancient magic with its protagonist's very real character growth . (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17651-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A thought-provoking if not particularly successful experiment.

THE PATUA PINOCCHIO

Illustrations done in a style indigenous to West Bengal test the universality of Collodi’s classic puppet-to-boy tale.

In the text, which is Della Chiesa’s 1925 translation abridged to about half its length, proper names—Mastro Antonio, Geppetto, Pulcinella—preserve the original’s Italian flavor. Chitrakar’s almond-eyed, dark- or golden-skinned figures definitely push that envelope. Chocolate-hued Pinocchio, clad only in a tightly wrapped loincloth and sporting a white pectoral to go with similarly lacy armlets and anklets, bears a heavy-lidded, enigmatically smiling expression throughout. This last is in keeping, as explained in the afterword, with the artist’s conception of him as a “lovable yet godly trickster figure,” like Krishna. Other humans are clad in loose traditional Bengali dress and drawn, like the animal characters, in heavy-lined, stylized ways that don’t always agree with the text. The azure-haired maiden, for instance, “face white as wax,” is honey-colored in the accompanying portrait. The depicted action, too, is so stylized that few if any readers would be able to connect pictures to story without prompts from the captions.

A thought-provoking if not particularly successful experiment. (afterword) (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-93-83145-12-6

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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