Turning Book 1: What Curiosity Kills

Turning Book 1: What Curiosity Kills

3.8 14
by Helen Ellis

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"What Curiosity Kills...cracks open the world of Upper East Side prep-schoolers and literally turns it wild, bringing together the best parts of Gossip Girl, Twilight, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer... funny, fierce, and full of surprises."

-Hannah Tinti, ALA Alex Award-winning auth or of The Good Thief

Nobody can know


"What Curiosity Kills...cracks open the world of Upper East Side prep-schoolers and literally turns it wild, bringing together the best parts of Gossip Girl, Twilight, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer... funny, fierce, and full of surprises."

-Hannah Tinti, ALA Alex Award-winning auth or of The Good Thief

Nobody can know your secret.

Nobody can know your power.

But if nobody knows who you are to begin with...what's stopping you?

I whisper, "What's so special about me all of a sudden?"

Nick says, "The Turning."

Mary feels different, but can't explain why. The fainting, the strange cravings...and worse, the things she's noticed about her body.

Mary doesn't know where to turn. If she tells her parents or her sister, she'll risk losing everything. She has no other family, no way of knowing if what she's going through is normal. Everyone she's ever known and loved could reject her...

"Helen Ellis is the kind of writer that makes the pages fly and the kind of friend readers will wish they had growing up."

-Hannah Tinti, ALA Alex Award-winning auth or of The Good Thief

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
"There is an undercurrent of chaste eroticism that Twilight series' fans will recognize... The blend of contemporary realism and fantasy, romance, humor, and adrenaline-charged action is sure to hook an eager teen audience."
From the Publisher
""There is an undercurrent of chaste eroticism that Twilight series' fans will recognize... The blend of contemporary realism and fantasy, romance, humor, and adrenaline-charged action is sure to hook an eager teen audience."" - Booklist

"It's impressive: an urban fantasy with original and consistent world-building, which bodes well for later books in the Turning series...
--Publishers Weekly" - Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews
Sophmore Mary Richards can't explain her purring in Pilates, her sudden desire to lap up spilled milk or the strange orange fur growing on her legs until she meets with her crush, Nick Martin, who reveals that she is undergoing "the turning" into a cat. While she learns more about the five-year process (which smoking pot can help alleviate but not fully suppress) and the ongoing feud between domestics and strays, former-classmate-now-cat Yoon, who stays turned as long as possible, tantalizes her inner feline. The convoluted story, the first in a series, continues as Octavia, her African-American, fellow adopted sister, puts aside her intense fear of cats and drags Mary to the used bookstore in the basement of the Webster Library to find answers from Mrs. Wrinkles, a sphynx reference librarian with a blind human protector. The author's attempts at humor, with satirical commentaries on aging parents' fertility problems, and horror, with bloody catfights, combine with Octavia's use of the "race card" to fall flat, leaving readers turned off. (Urban fantasy. YA)

Product Details

Publication date:
The Turning Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
HL700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

I want to scream for help, but pain that feels like fire ants has found me. The ants crawl up and out of my knee socks and take over every bit of my flesh. They are between my toes, behind my ears, and in every crevice in between. They scamper across my scalp. They bite. Their bites are unbearable. I twist and scratch within the suffocating comforter. I'm trapped.

The boys lean over me, say things-to me, to each other-I can't make out. My hearing is fading. I'm shrinking. The boys' faces get bigger and rise like moons. One of them blinks. When his eyes close, they are chestnut. Open, they are emerald green. He smiles, parts his teeth, and unrolls a long, narrow pink tongue. He licks the tips of his incisors, which have grown past his lower gums to form fine points.

He purrs, his voice velvet. He says, "Don't worry, Kitty. There are no such things as vampires."

Meet the Author

HELEN ELLIS is the author of Eating the Cheshire Cat, a Southern Gothic about three teenage girls and the Alabama Society that twisted them. The novel was picked for B&N Discover Great New Writers, ABA Booksense 76, and the Los Angeles Times and Southern Critics Circle Best Book of the Year. The book is currently being optioned for film by director Amy Redford.

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Turning Book 1: What Curiosity Kills 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave this book my all, i really did, but i just cant read anymore. It read like a first draft writen by a 9th grader. Very difficult to read and nit enjoyable at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little gory in the end and quiet dramatic but pulls you in to see how this new idea forms. Its a lot like a shape shifter book but a little a bit different with cats. Sometimes the thoughts in the book wondered and confused me but I'm still interested to see If a second one is to come out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
CURIOSITY KILLS, the first book in THE TURNING series, is an island in a sea of paranormal books. One that pulls you in from the beginning and holds tight throughout the story. Mary is sixteen years old and not totally human, as you can probably figure out from the title. Mary is shifting into a cat. First the purring starts, and later she sprouts orange fur on her legs. There are those who understand what she is going through, but who should she trust? The main person that Mary relies on is Nick, a hunky classmate who is more than he seems. Then there are others she meets in her neighborhood, as well as her adopted sister. Changing into a cat is actually the least of her worries as she strives to navigate this new world that is as weird as it is exciting. My daughter and I both read this one and we enjoyed it very much. We are definitely looking forward to the next in this series. I rate this book 4 Stars, mainly because it raises as many questions as it answers. Also, I truly wish that the book had been longer so that we could have had more time to get to know all of the characters. Realistic characterization, an intriguing storyline, and dialogue that could be found in any group of teens, this book is definitely one to add to your shelves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ajpohren More than 1 year ago
The Turning is a rather unique reading adventure. By this, I mean that with all of the books on the market today, focusing on vampires, werewolves, zombies and the like, The Turning actually revolves around humans, that once they reach a certain time in their teen years, turn into cats. Yes, cats. This turning lasts only a certain length of time and is almost like a "phase", if you will. When Mary Richards begins going through a few changes - such as growing stout orange fur in various places, she worries. Okay, so "worries" is putting it mildly. When a handsome young boy, Nick, whom Mary has had a crush on for some time, begins to talk and take notice of her, she is filled with happiness and excitement. However, when Mary discovers exactly why Nick is putting himself so close to Mary, she is filled with disbelief. This disbelief quickly turns into reality when Nick helps Mary in her first "official" turning. It is with that, that a relationship blooms between Nick and Mary, and Mary learns all about this different race of felines, including the fact that there are divisions between different groups and breeds of felines - those who are domestic (turn-cats) and those who are strays (pure-cats). Mary also learns that her life is in danger and that she is an incredibly rare breed, one to be exulted. The Turning is a first in a new series by Helen Ellis and after reading this book, I am anxiously awaiting the next in the series. This was a very quick read that was hard to put down, and had the ability to immediately grab and hold my attention, from beginning to end. Once I finished, I honestly yearned for more. Ms. Ellis displays a delightfully wonderful talent to craft a story that is unique, engaging, addictive and a pleasure to read. Aimed at Young Adults, I feel that adults will even enjoy this tale of finding one's inner strength, courage and embracing individuality. Highly recommend to anyone looking for a great read that they will not soon forget!
LiteraryCravings More than 1 year ago
Move aside vampires, werewolves, faeries, angels' est., the cats have come out to play in Helen Ellis's new novel The Turning. Set in modern day Manhattan on the Upper East Side we follow Mary, our protagonist, on her journey to fit in with her peers at the private school she and her sister goes to. During her struggles with the day to day life something incredible begins to happen to her, she starts to turn into a cat. I'm instantly taken on a wild ride as Mary tries to figure out what's going on with her body while hiding her changes from her friends and family. Which proves to be harder than she expected, having an inquisitive sister Octavia, who had me laughing throughout the story. I enjoyed getting to know Mary and seeing her world through her eyes, discovering and experiencing everything in the same moment as she does. I really appreciated the diversity of the characters Ellis created. Mostly all of the characters came from different backgrounds and ethnicities, having their own unique personalities, adding to the story and furthering the plot. All of the character elements were there from the snobby popular girl who hated Mary and her sister and friends, to Mary's romantic interest Nick who had interesting secrets that added to the story besides his popularity and good looks. Ellis's new take on the mythology of cat shape shifters was very unique, making what I once thought of as cute and cuddly into edgy and dangerous. I won't look at a cat the same again! The writing was very clear and easy to read, Ellis did well writing the mind of a teenage girl. Not once did Mary's voice or any of the characters voices sounded off to me. There's humor, intrigue, romance and danger all rolled up in a clever package. I recommend everyone read this book, it's the first of the series and I can't wait for the continuation of Mary's journey.
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
Mary Richards isn't sure what's wrong with her. She got so tired in school she fell asleep.and purred. She's sprouting fur wherever a cat rubs against her skin. And she's craving milk. When Nick, the guy she has a crush on, seems to understand what's happening to her, and he offers to help, she decides that maybe what's happening to her isn't so wrong after all. The Turning: What Curiosity Kills by Helen Ellis is a new teen series focusing on humans who can turn into cats. Ellis pokes fun at Upper-East-Side-privileged- Manhattan life with her cast of characters-most of whom attend an elite private school populated by scads of fertility drug, embryo implanted twins and children adopted as babies from Asia. Mary and her sister Octavia are the only students adopted out of the foster-child system in the U.S. when they were eight. Their school is super politically correct. The Turning brings up several issues for Mary: Who can she tell about what's happening to her? Given the chance to go back to her regular life, will she take it? Can she adapt to her new realities without getting hurt in the sometimes-violent cat life? This first novel feels mostly like a prologue for the books that are to come, and I expect teens interested in finding a new series with an intriguing premise will find a lot to like here.
Toughsister More than 1 year ago
I read alot--5 or 6 six books a week. The Turning: Book One is wonderfully creative--not the same old Young Adult formula plots. The writer has the abilty to sweep you into a facinating world you never imagined exists. At times she managed to scare the you-know-what out of me and at other times had me laughing out loud---a roller coaster of a read. Buy it now! Give it to friends! Give it to enemies. They all have a Ling Ling Lebowitz character in their lives and that character alone is enough to ensure enjoyment for all YA's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read an advanced copy. Loved this book and the characters. Cannot wait for the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
7hir7een More than 1 year ago
I’ll admit, I picked this book up because of the cover. It’s pretty, colorful, she has a cat eye… Once I confirmed my suspicions that What Curiosity Kills was a story about a girl turning into a cat, I knew I had to read it. After finishing the novel, I must say that it reminds me a lot of the show (I’ve never read the novels) The Nine Lives of Chloe King<, except the protagonist literally turns into a cat, not a person with cat features. What Curiosity Kills had some definite strengths. While the casual narrative style Ellis adopts may turn off some readers, I found the witty dialogue and thoughts refreshing and very funny. Mary’s internal narration, the banter between her and her sister and the other characters, and the things that happen to Mary as she slowly turns into a cat had me smiling constantly as the pages flew by. Sure, the novel has flaws. It’s short, a little absurd at times, possibly offensive to some in parts, some of the characters lack depth, the mythology is not thoroughly explained, and Mary and Nick’s relationship kind of comes out of left field. However, it’s a fast, fun read — especially for cat lovers like me. I hope Ellis does plan to release the sequel, because I look forward to spending more time with these wacky characters and seeing what happens next.