From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Here's your headline, boss: Small-Town Dame Lands in Big Apple, Goes Wild, Tries to Stop Resurrection of Antichrist. It'll sell bundles! Indeed it will, as Bray continues her winning streak with this heedlessly sprawling series starter set in Prohibition-era New York. Slang-slinging flapper Evie, 17, is pos-i-tute-ly thrilled to be under the wing of her uncle, who runs the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. Business is slow (i.e., plenty of time for Evie to swill gin at speakeasies!) until the grisly arrival of what the papers dub the Pentacle Killer, who might be the reincarnation of a religious zealot named Naughty John. Even Evie's new pals hoofers, numbers runners, and activists, but all swell kids are drawn into the investigation. It's Marjorie Morningstar meets Silence of the Lambs, and Bray dives into it with the brio of the era, alternating rat-a-rat flirting with cold-blooded killings. Seemingly each teen has a secret ability (one can read an object's history; another can heal), and yet the narrative maintains the flavor of historical fiction rather than fantasy. The rest of the plot well, how much time do you have? The book is big and wants to be the kind of thing you can lose yourself in. Does it succeed? It's jake, baby. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: One need only peruse Bray's track record (the Gemma Doyle Trilogy; Going Bovine, 2009; Beauty Queens, 2011) to see that the heavy promo plans and author tour are well earned.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal
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Gr 10 Up-Set in 1920s New York City, this literary tour-de-force from Printz Award-winner Bray offers grand themes, complex characters, and suspense. After her secret gift for divining information from objects lands her in trouble, 17-year-old Evangeline O'Neill is sent from Ohio to live with her uncle, who runs a museum specializing in folklore and the occult in Manhattan. Evie is a quintessential flapper: not really bad, but rebellious and yearning to fly free of her Babbitt-like existence. Although she starts out her new life like the party girl she was back home, her pursuits become more serious when her uncle is asked to help solve a series of strange murders. She crosses paths with Memphis Campbell, a black numbers runner in Harlem, whose power to heal by laying on hands failed him when he tried to save his mother. Other characters include a homosexual composer who meets people in dreams, a Ziegfeld girl with a past, a pickpocket searching for his family, and a young research assistant with his own secrets. Bray develops each of these characters and their gifts, gradually bringing them together in a chilling and thrilling battle with Naughty John, a paranormal serial killer. Over the course of the novel, people (mainly good) smoke, drink, and use other illegal substances. These peccadilloes are contrasted with the values of the hellfire-and-brimstone cult that spawned Naughty John. The compelling and dramatic supernatural plot explores self-actualization, predestination, the secrets everyone hides, and, of course, good versus evil. An absolutely terrific read and, thankfully, the first in a planned series.-Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Evie O'Neill has a neat-o party trick: she can uncover details about people by holding any object that belongs to them. After one too many tumblers of gin, she uses this skill to out the sexual misadventures of a prominent bachelor in her Ohio hometown, earning her immediate exile to Jazz Age New York City, where her professorial uncle runs a museum devoted to the occult. Naturally, Evie considers this punishment the luckiest break possible, until she realizes she's arrived just as a demon spirit has been inadvertently released. A spree of grisly murders ensues, eventually necessitating the use of Evie's special skill. Evie is fighting personal demons, as well, including the ghost of her dead older brother and a penchant for alcohol that gets her into continual trouble. Bray empties a wealth of topics into her complicated narrative-labor reform, a steampunkish robotics experiment, flapper culture, religious zealotry-but her trademark humor is less apparent. The large cast-a pickpocket with a missing mother, a Ziegfeld girl with Hollywood dreams, a Harlem numbers runner who longs to be a poet-ensures there's plenty to write about in the sequels. Ages 15-up. (Sept.) ? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.