Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson, . . Roaring Brook/Brodie, $16.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-013-6

As Johnson's (The Parallel Universe of Liars ) riveting novel opens, readers learn that on Halloween night, three teens took a walk in the woods. One ends up reporting to the police that the other two—Emmet and Niki, a troubled brother and sister—attacked a famous but reclusive writer who lived there. The trio ends up naked, and the brother and sister covered in blood, but the writer is not found. Lonely, nerdy Doug, 15, recants his report of the events, but 16-year-old Emmet is put in a psychiatric hospital while his sister receives treatment at home. In Emmet's letters to his psychiatrist, Dr. Rita Milton, he reveals that 14-year-old Niki believes in "animals changing into people, people changing into animals. She calls it transformation." Niki believes she is becoming a cat and Emmet a hawk. But are the siblings really supernatural, or are they just mentally ill victims of incest? And what really happened that night in the woods? The author plants many seeds, even implicating the psychiatrist (the writer was her patient; the siblings' father, a journalist who abandoned the family, interviewed her). Through Emmet and Doug's letters to Dr. Milton, a story Niki wrote, and clippings from a local newspaper, readers try to piece together the mystery. The remote woods setting provides a fittingly creepy setting. The conflicting versions plus the fact that, even in the end, the truth remains unclear may trouble readers. Overall, mature readers will be drawn into—and chilled by—this suspenseful novel. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)