cover image Whispering Pines

Whispering Pines

Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski. S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5344-6047-8

This horror series starter weaves a tense narrative within an atmospheric small town. When Rae Carter, 12, moves with her mother and older sister from Sunnyside, Calif., to Whispering Pines, Conn., she sees an opportunity to reinvent herself, leaving behind last year’s identity as the “conspiracy freak” who believes her father’s mysterious disappearance was orchestrated. But their new town is uncanny: bottomless sinkholes, a family of mediums and exorcists across the street, a rash of children whose eyes have been stolen by inexplicable means, and an enigmatic, supposedly benevolent company called Green On! monitoring the whole town’s energy—as well as the eyeless children. Befriending neighbor Caden Price, who’s haunted by his missing brother, and chatterbox Vivienne Matsuoka, whose giant ever-present backpack poses another mystery, Rae delves into Whispering Pines’ deadly secrets. Hoping to thwart the “serial eye snatcher” before they claim another victim, the trio must face challenges both mundane and supernatural. Though the genre-blurring inclusion of aliens alongside ghosts and monsters threatens to destabilize the various elements, Lang and Bartkowski (the Mystic Cooking Chronicles) effectively develop their heroes and setting while crafting an unpredictable, unrelenting adventure. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jennifer Azantian, Azantian Literary. (Sept.)