Sabina Tremper has always longed to go to Catherine House, a refuge for women, ever since she heard the stories from her mother. So when her mother sends her away for a month, Sabina finally has the opportunity to escape to Catherine House. She steals cash from her mother, grabs Catherine House’s phone number, and races off to the place of her dreams. Upon arrival, she meets a mysterious girl named Monet who is as strange as she is extraordinary. On her first night, she quickly learns that Catherine House is not ordinary, but instead filled with a strange power. As the weeks progress, she discovers that her new home holds a danger and secret beyond her wildest dreams.
The words weaved into this thrilling tale make it seem as if the pages were an enchantment themselves. I especially enjoyed how the author created a suspicious air throughout the novel to keep the reader hooked. Furthermore, there were several peculiar events at every chapter, leaving the reader to solve the mysteries alongside Sabina. The book constantly keeps me quivering in excitement, which is something I admire in books. Lastly, the characters consist of a wide range of personalities, keeping the story interesting to read.
A memorable event of Sabina’s story is found in the beginning of the book. Sabina sneaks off to a party, where she is beaten up by her stepsisters and their friends, causing Sabina to appear at Catherine House’s doorstep covered in bruises and a black eye. Another unforgettable event is how Sabina lies down in the middle of the road after getting beaten up, cursing her fate. There are many miserable events in this book, which is what makes the story truly unforgettable.
Reviewed by Soumya Khadye, Twin Hickory Area Library
This book was about two brothers, Felix and Lee Vickery, who live in the same house serving as apprentices for different Shades, or the human forms of Death and Memory. The brothers are separated by an Agreement due to the fact that Death and Memory are rivals, and Lee lives with the Mom while Felix lives with the Dad. Felix and his dad, who are forced apprentices of Death, mysteriously cure patients with the help of Death, and the whole town normally stays away from them due to their exotic personality. However, one girl, named Gretchen, becomes curious about the events happening at their home, called the Poplar house. For some unknown reason, her family had always intensely hated the Vickeries, and she doesn’t know why. Gretchen is a summoner of rites, meaning she can cast spells and communicate with Shades. However, when Death goes on a rampage and suddenly starts taking innocent lives, she must work with the two brothers to figure out what is happening before mass murder occurs. The setting takes place in a small town called Booney Ridge.
Frankly, I thought the book was really bad. The plot was too dragged out, and at times, there was no motive behind the characters’ actions. Also, the book was very boring due to the fact that no exciting events happened for a long time, and it was like that for almost half the story. I also thought that the author did not provide enough detail to understand a deep analysis of a character and their personality. When reading, it was foreshadowed that everyone knew some secrets, but they were never even revealed at the end. The plot was also messy and the author continuously switched character perspectives more than he should have. Overall, I really didn’t like anything about this book and thought it was a waste of time.
One memorable thing about the book was the suspense, which was one thing the author did well. Whenever the characters discovered a clue for their mystery, that clue led to another clue and I was curious to see what they would find. However, I really did not read anything that memorable.
Reviewed by Aaryan Asthana, Twin Hickory Area Library
The book Dreamfall was about a fictional experimental insomnia treatment that went horribly wrong when an earthquake struck twice, cutting off all power. The 7 patients that volunteered for this experiment (all having severe cases of insomnia) ended up in a dream world together where they have to relive each other’s nightmares, without being able to wake up, and don’t remember anything about the experiment. These patients are Ant, Cata, Fergus, Sinclair, Brett, BethAnn, and Remi. On the other side is Jaime, a student who is taking notes and studying this experiment and observes what is happening from the outside world. The story itself is trying to get the kids awake and alive on both sides of the story.
I liked this story as it not only covers a real medical condition but also a type of story you would only see in a horror movie. The story was truly horrifying to me as I always had nightmares that had me left behind to die, except I usually woke up before I die. It is truly terrifying to think of a world where your nightmares don’t end when you are about to die and let you feel the pain and horror of it. Though the plot was horrific, this crazy idea of being stuck was what I liked the most about the book. The commonality of having a nightmare is what makes you feel connected to the story, to reflect on your own nightmares and imagine how it would feel to instead be left with it instead of waking up. This feeling also reflects on the characters, as they react to their own nightmares with fear too, just like the reader would.
The most memorable part of this book is the idea of it. Being stuck in a nightmare with no known escape and no memory of how you got there is a scary thing. After all, nightmares are simply manifestations of things you fear the most in your dreams. It’s just that these manifestations are tailored to scare you specifically.
Kateiko, affectionately called Kako by her close friends, wants no part in being a Rin anymore as throughout all seventeen years of her life, she was told the dead were worth protecting even if it meant the death of the living. Feeling restrained and shackled by her people’s customs, she leaves her tribe along with her close friend, Nili, to join another by trekking through the treacherous Coastal Rainforest. But nothing goes to plan when a colonial soldier threatens to kill Nili for trespassing, forcing Kateiko to kill him. Overwhelmed with grief and guilt, she collapses only to wake up in a house owned by Tiernan, an itheran or immigrant carpenter, who seems to have more weapons than carpentry tools. After spending a winter there to heal and mend, she grows close to Tiernan, in which time Nili leaves as she misses her parents and loved ones. But happiness cannot last too long for Kateiko anywhere, as soon after, Suriel, the violent air spirit long thought dormant, wakes and reignites an ancient war. Kateiko sees this as her opportunity to redeem herself to the tribes, but Tiernan sees this as a return to his horrific past life as a mercenary. Now in the middle of a world ready to crumble, Kateiko must choose whether she wants happiness or atonement.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I really liked the characters as they were all well thought out and relatable, although a bit cliched. Every one of the characters have underlying motives and there are explanations given to why they did what they did. They also have complex personalities and interesting backstories which helped to really flesh them out. But on the other hand, there was minimal world building. There was no explanation given to how this world worked or why it did this way. All the customs felt like they weren’t fleshed. Even the story, a girl who leaves her tribe and fights for redemption, is not very unique and the storytelling also falters here and there.
The most memorable thing about this book to me is Tiernan. He was, very much, a grey character who had aspects that were both good and bad to him. I both love and hate Tiernan, a first for me, because although he is caring and kind, he still truly is a mercenary underneath and will kill if necessary and shows no remorse at times.
The Crossroads, sequel to The Only Road, continues the story of Jamie Rivera, a refugee from Guatemala. In the previous book, he entered the United States due to gang violence in his home country. After both he and his cousin, Ángela come to live with their brother, Tomás, Jamie is extremely reluctant to start school. This entrance into his new school is made even worse by the fact that he can barely speak English. Throughout all the bullying, embarrassing moments, and the fact that everything around him is strange, Jamie never truly feels like he fits in. He wants nothing but to go home to Guatemala, but violence back in his home country prevents him and his cousin from returning. It almost seems as if he’ll never belong in the United States, but has no choice but to stay. Through the unknown, will Jamie finally make friends and truly learn to belong?
I honestly liked this book. It was just amazing with a unique story, one that I had never heard before. I had never read a story about two Guatemalan refugees before, and was intrigued by the synopsis. I liked how real all of the characters seemed; they just seemed so believable. I could completely understand how strange and afraid Jamie felt when entering a new school, even more so since he couldn’t speak English that well. Also, the scattered details throughout the book, like Jamie’s artwork and even descriptions of Vida, their dog, made the whole read quite endearing. However, I didn’t really understand some of the details and references in the book, since I hadn’t read The Only Road.
One of the most memorable parts of the book was how Vida, the dog, was described. Vida was described using all of the most tantalizing details possible. Sometimes, I even felt like she was in the room with me while I was reading. In the previous book, Vida was rescued by Ángela and came with them to the United States; which is similar to Jamie and Ángela being “rescued” from the gangs in Guatemala and being taken to the U.S.A. Throughout the book, she was a true companion to everyone, and the way she could sense when people were upset was just so endearing. The attention and accuracy of all these canine details make me wonder if the author had a dog similar to Vida.
Reviewed by Sanika Renatkwar, Grade 8, Twin Hickory Area Library