Tag Archives: thriller

Locke & Key

I stopped reading off my controversial book list for a while because I needed to buff up on modern comics for a graphic novel club I’m planning on launching at my school and thus I became totally obsessed with the Locke & Key series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.

Locke & Key cover

This story has got everything that lovers of fantasy and horror look for in a good novel. It’s fast paced, super scary, has huge cliffhangers, and takes place in a verse that is totally realistic and easily imaginable.

The story follows the lives of three sibs: Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke, who just moved to their family’s rural New England home. What they don’t know is that the house is full of secrets, and most importantly secret keys, which unlock doors that make the impossible, possible.

From turning into a ghost to super strength to gender bending, the keys that the Locke family uncovers offer endless possibility. There is a dark force afoot though, something evil that is terrorizing the family, in search of the Omega Key, and who knows what door that will open. 

A few people have told me that the first book is über confusing and that keeping the characters straight is a total pita. I cannot disagree, the first book is hard to follow, there’s a lot going on. If you can hold out though– if you can make it to the second book you are sure to be hooked on what I think it one of the greatest horror stories of recent memory. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Joe Hill is the progeny of famous horror novelist Stephen King.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes scary stories! Be careful though, this is a graphic novel and as such there are pictures of violence, blood and gore, and other scary stuff.

You know what’s next: stay uncomfortable, keep reading!

Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

marbury lensMarbury Lens was another one of those books that totally reflects my penchant for reading in themes. I was on a mondo-grosso, fairly creepy kick when I read this series a couple weeks ago. Both books in 3 days. I thought they were excellent.

Here’s the skinny: Jack is 16, he lives with his grandparents, and his best friend in the whole world is Conner, a typical seeming teenage athlete (arrogant, sex crazed, etc). After Jack gets drunk at a weekend party he wanders away from the fray and falls asleep on a park bench. Still drunk, he is woken up by a doctor who wants to help him. The man ends up kidnapping and assaulting Jack, and  what’s worse is that no one is looking for him: Jack’s grandparents think he’s with Conner and Conner thinks he’s blowing off steam.

Jack manages to escape the man, and does his best at recovering from the trauma. He and Connor are headed to England to check out a boys school they’re considering attending the following Fall. While Jack is tooling around London waiting for Connor to show up he meets Henry Hewitt in a bar. Henry gives Jack a pair of strange glasses and when he puts them on he’s transported to the strange and terrifying alter-verse, Marbury.

Though the trips to Marbury are terrifying and leave him sick and disoriented in this verse, Jackpassenger can’t stop putting on the glasses. Like a junkie looking for his next fix, Jack becomes completely obsessed with Marbury and has an increasingly difficult time hiding his addiction from Connor. Eventually Jack and Connor make their way to Marbury together and what follows is a faced paced, dark and frightening adventure through the bowels of hell and toward redemption. Can Jack and Connor keep it together in the real world as they face unspeakable danger in Marbury? Can they find salvation after all they have done and everything they have faced?

This series is going to be a thrill ride for anyone who enjoys the dark and edgy, dystopian, or adventure stories. As I mentioned above, these books are intense, violent and gory. I do not recommend these books to any readers who are sensitive to these issues.

Keep reading! Stay uncomfortable!

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1)

I hunt killers books cover I guess I’m in a creepy phase right now. Some of my colleagues were talking about books they didn’t like on the YALSA listerv and this was one of the titles that came up. I really didn’t have any interest in it before, but after several people agreed it was super creepy and gross I had already purchased five copies of it. Just kidding, I only have the one.

Guess what? It’s super creepy and gross! I loved it though and pre-ordered that sequel. Jasper Dent is the only child of the super serial killer Billy Dent. His father safely behind bars Jasper, Jazz, is trying to live the normal life of any 17-year-old boy. Trouble is that his dad so supremely messed with his head that Jazz is constantly having to remind himself to act like a human being, rather than the perfect sociopath his dad raised him up to be.

Trouble is brewing in Jazz’s little town of Lobo’s Nod, there’s a new killer on the loose. Jazz is frantically trying to get the local police department to listen to his insights regarding the case, but even though he is a super smart dude with an insider’s view into the world of sociopathy, he’s still a kid in the eyes of the law… a kid with a past that would make anyone wary. Jasper is caught between his own knowledge of the mindset of a killer, his burning need to crack the case, and the sometimes crushing worry that he’s not any better than his father.

Jazz’s struggle with his own morals and humanity make him an excellent character. He is so very aware of not just everyone around him, but of himself and his own actions, I think that his behaviors and analytical awareness will be familiar to anyone who has grown up in a destructive family environment and is working toward healing.

I Hunt Killers is a super fast paced and compelling novel for readers who enjoy the morbid or gruesome. Be warned that there are some very detailed descriptions of disembowelment and such, so this novel may not be for you if you’ve got a weak stomach!

Temptation (Secret Diaries #1)



Harrell, J. (1994). Temptation. New York: Scholastic. Print.

Only the first book from this series is included in the collection.

Reader’s Annotation

Joanna is new in town, deciding to move in with her father in the middle of the school year, and she doesn’t know anyone in her high school. She notices Penn and his group right away though, and knows that she’s got to be part of their group, no matter what it takes.

Plot Summary

Joanna is attracted to Penn from the very first moment she lays eyes on him, but she can’t figure out how to get to know him better. He and his group of friends seem so close and mysterious, it’s hard to break in. After Penn invites her to coffee with the gang Joanna feels even less sure of her ability to assimilate into the group, they all seem to be grieving over the disappearance of their friend Laurie and she while she is curious about the missing girl she’d much rather focus her attention on Penn.

As Joanna and Penn become more intimate warning signs begin to flare up. Super smart Casey is going out of his way to be extra annoying, while quite and sensitive Stephen starts have angry outbursts that frighten Joanna. One night she runs across Stephen and Tessa watching their car as it burns up. Joanna doesn’t know what to make of all this, and what she suspects is too terrible to take seriously. Surely this group of close knit friends couldn’t be responsible for the disappearance of one of their own, could they? Is Joanna in danger too?

Critical Evaluation

This is another one of those purely campy novels. It’s terrible, really. The story line is crystal clear, and the Joanna, the lead, has as much depth as a kiddie-pool, her main concern is getting (and holding) the attention of Penn, who drives his red Corvette too fast all over town. I have to admit that when I first read this book 15 or 16 years ago I was totally ga-ga over Penn too, so I guess I can’t fault Joanna that.

Author Information

There’s not a lot of information available about Janice Harrell out there, she isn’t a current author, has no Goodreads or Amazon page and no one has written anything about her in any of the literary review databases. It looks like she published a number of horror and suspense books in the mid-80s to the mid-90s and then completely fell off the radar.


YA Fic, horror, suspense

Curriculum Ties


Booktalk Ideas

What would you do in Joanna’s shoes? Would you keep the groups secret or go to the police?

Reading Level/Interest Age 


Challenge Issues

This is a suspenseful horror novel and some parents/patrons may object to some of the material contained within. This library encourages ever reader’s right to read, and strongly urges parents and teens to discuss and decide what is right for them to read. We do not support censorship, in accordance with the ALA Library Bill of Rights.

Reason for Inclusion

I really liked this novel when I was a teenager and included it for that reason alone.