What Curiosity Kills

Helen Ellis, Sourcebooks Fire, $14.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4022-3861-1
Reading Ellis’s prose is like listening to a Robin Williams monologue—it’s high energy and high anxiety—with a Southern twist. This is the voice of Mary Richards, a 16-year-old from Alabama, who has been adopted into a wealthy New York City family. Mary remembers enough of her troubled past to appreciate her good fortune, but has lost any sense of the strangeness of her privileged bubble. Preoccupied with friends’ teasing, rivalry with her African-American sister (also an adoptee), and a crush on her classmate, Nick, she feels like an ordinary teenager. Until, that is, she begins to transform into a cat. Then the edgy patter turns hallucinogenic, erotic, and murderous. Imaginatively, it’s impressive: an urban fantasy with original and consistent world-building, which bodes well for later books in the Turning series. Between frequent references to 1980s pop culture and the finer points of life on the Upper East Side and the book’s more gruesome (though not gratuitous) moments, Ellis seems to be writing for an older audience—and, for them, she is writing very well. Ages 12–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/03/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
Genre: Children's
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