Snappy dialogue and well-paced excitement bring this adventure to its ambiguous but nevertheless satisfying conclusion

ARCADIA FALLS

From the Arcadia Trilogy series , Vol. 3

The Arcadia trilogy concludes with magic, shootouts, family betrayals and a cruise ship full of monsters: everything that’s necessary for a romance about Cosa Nostra shape shifters.

After the death of her aunt and sister, Rosa has become head of the Alcantara dynasty of Sicilian mobsters. She’s made nothing but enemies among her own family—because of her romance with Alessandro, head of the rival Carnevare family, because she’s cleaning up the least savory of her family’s criminal enterprises or simply because she’s an outsider—and soon, she and Alessandro are on the run, framed for a murder they didn’t commit. Since the discovery that she can turn into a 9-foot-long snake (while Alessandro can become an enormous panther), Rosa has learned not to be surprised by anything. Still, new discoveries (both magical and mundane) strain her credulity to the breaking point. A friend whose corpse she’s seen appears to be alive. Rosa’s dead father, seemingly involved in the rape and abortion that originally sent Rosa to Sicily, is connected to dark mob business and mad science. As they seek answers, revenge or at least a quiet moment, Alessandro and Rosa face certain doom with believably affectionate bickering. Refreshingly for a paranormal romance, the two protect and fight for each other with equal strength and zeal. Rosa and her enemies leave a trail of corpses, some explicitly gruesome, all the way to the cinematic conclusion at a long-drowned village.

Snappy dialogue and well-paced excitement bring this adventure to its ambiguous but nevertheless satisfying conclusion . (Paranormal romance. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-200610-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, would rather perform autopsies in her uncle’s dark laboratory than find a suitable husband, as is the socially acceptable rite of passage for a young, white British lady in the late 1800s.

The story immediately brings Audrey into a fractious pairing with her uncle’s young assistant, Thomas Cresswell. The two engage in predictable rounds of “I’m smarter than you are” banter, while Audrey’s older brother, Nathaniel, taunts her for being a girl out of her place. Horrific murders of prostitutes whose identities point to associations with the Wadsworth estate prompt Audrey to start her own investigation, with Thomas as her sidekick. Audrey’s narration is both ponderous and polemical, as she sees her pursuit of her goals and this investigation as part of a crusade for women. She declares that the slain aren’t merely prostitutes but “daughters and wives and mothers,” but she’s also made it a point to deny any alignment with the profiled victims: “I am not going as a prostitute. I am simply blending in.” Audrey also expresses a narrow view of her desired gender role, asserting that “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce,” as if to say that physical beauty and liking “girly” things are integral to feminism. The graphic descriptions of mutilated women don’t do much to speed the pace.

Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging . (Historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-27349-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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