This mystery shines as a foray into modern investigative journalism.


An aspiring journalist investigates a local horror website.

Sabrina Sebastian is a smart, ambitious high school freshman, determined to get a summer newspaper internship, but her cafeteria exposés and charity fluff pieces for the school paper are too stodgy. Her best friend, the spirited Evelyn, suggests that she write about the gossip surrounding Scream Site, a trendy website for amateur horror videos. Sabrina hates scary movies but is intrigued by rumors that girls have disappeared after sharing videos. Could there be a grain of truth to the terrifying footage of girls screaming for help while evading nefarious pursuers? “This is real. This is real!” whispers one girl into the camera. Sabrina turns up suspicious ties between the website and missing local girls, but her detective uncle dismisses her concerns as unfounded even as Sabrina starts to receive creepy threats. Ireland (Dread Nation, 2018, etc.) maintains a steady pace of reveals as suspicion is cast on Evelyn’s crush, an English teacher, and possibly even Sabrina’s own uncle. Horror fans may be disappointed that homage is paid to the genre without any real terror, but they will appreciate the jump scares, the untimely blackouts, and the frustration when Sabrina’s older sister, Faith, innocently decides that she wants to try to post some horror videos, too. Sabrina and her sister are dark-skinned, and Evelyn is Chinese-American.

This mystery shines as a foray into modern investigative journalism. (Mystery. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63079-102-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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A deliciously disturbing, twisted tale.


Teens endure fallout from a game of Bloody Mary.

Everybody’s done it at some point: You look in the mirror and repeat the name Bloody Mary. Sometimes, the legend says, you’ll see your true love. Sometimes they say you’ll see the ghost’s face, and it means you will die young. But these four fourth grade friends—Grace, Calvin, Elena, and Steph—didn’t count on their little game’s still affecting them five years later. They were just having some spooky fun in Elena’s deceased grandmother’s room, after all. But now, even after all these years have passed, each of them still sees a shape behind them whenever they look in a mirror. But the frights really begin when a new girl arrives at school. Her name is Mary. The author effectively and slowly ratchets the tension and dread, crafting some cleverly frightening sequences that fans of the genre will love. Less effective is the characterization: As each chapter pivots perspectives, some readers may have to double back and sort out which of the troubled teens they’re following. As the scares pile up and the descent into madness moves forward, the characterization gets a bit crisper, but the first few chapters may pose a bit of a hurdle. The novel’s conclusion is satisfactory, but the real highlights here are the spooky sequences. The teens are all presumed White.

A deliciously disturbing, twisted tale. (Horror. 12-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-67927-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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