A really scary and original ghost story, well told. Read it with the lights on.

THE DEAD GIRLS OF HYSTERIA HALL

A rebellious 16-year-old becomes trapped in a definitely haunted old insane asylum, possibly forever.

This superior ghost story keeps the creep factor high, presenting readers with what appears to be a just-normal-ghost-folks mystery storyline before turning into a suspensefest. When Delia inherits a house—a notorious former insane asylum—from a namesake aunt, her whole family goes to stay there. It doesn’t take long for Delia to realize the place is seriously haunted, but although the house will release her family, it kills her rather than let her go. Stuck there, she meets a variety of ghosts, most of whom seem quite pleasant but none of whom can leave the premises. Delia seems to be making progress in uncovering the secret evil of the house, but her investigations threaten both her and her family. Plus, the initially friendly ghosts might not all be as they first seem. Alender creates a fascinating, eerie world that turns on a nicely original use of time and features constantly interesting characters. Delia is likable and sympathetic even as she strikes out, and the house itself becomes a character, as readers wonder who or what is at the root of the evil that lurks there. The final confrontation will have readers curling their toes.

A really scary and original ghost story, well told. Read it with the lights on. (Paranormal suspense. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-63999-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more