In this mystery with a clever twist by Henry (Playing with Fire), a George R.R. Martin–esque author is forced to write in captivity, his only hope of rescue lying with his teenage Portland, Ore.–based assistant. Alternating perspectives, including that of middle-aged Swords and Shadows author R.M. Haldon, or Bob, whose yearslong tardiness on the final book in his epic fantasy series turned TV show has angered many fans; redheaded Bridget Shepherd, 17, who secretly works as Haldon’s “continuity supervisor”; and teenage kidnapper Derrick, a “socially inept, geeky pariah,” all white, plus Bridget’s Indian American classmate and love interest Ajay Kapoor, allow readers to delve into the central players’ psyches, presenting a portrait of each individually and in pairs before their combined narratives overlap. The conceit—that a fan might kidnap and exploit an author to coerce them into continuing a story—feels plausible in Henry’s treatment of a simulation gone wrong. Details such as the framing of Haldon’s weight loss during confinement and a lingering focus on Ajay lessen the overall effect of this thriller, but its brisk pacing and sensational premise will have wide appeal. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)
April Henry's YA mysteries have collectively been awarded over fifty state honors and awards.
The Girl in the White Van:
“With a relentless pace, this thrill-ride of a book will absolutely satisfy readers looking for pulse-quickening action and smart, resilient heroes." —Booklist
"This tight, fast-paced thriller [is] ideal for striving readers, particularly those who favor adventure or survival stories. Sure to satisfy fans of Courtney Summers and Caroline B. Cooney, this book is a solid purchase for libraries with widely circulating thriller collections." —School Library Journal
The Lonely Dead:
"Henry delivers a compelling thriller that weaves supernatural elements into a topical tapestry of loss, betrayal, and family drama. A thriller that manages to be both creepy and fun." —Kirkus Reviews
The Girl I Used to Be:
Winner of the Anthony Award for Best Young Adult Mystery Novel
An Edgar Award for Best YA Nominee
A Texas Lonestar List Selection
"Henry has done it again with another edge-of-your-seat mystery/thriller. Recommended for middle school and high school mystery/thriller/suspense collections and for April Henry fans." —VOYA, starred review
"A must-have for YA mystery-thriller collections." —School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Henry immerses readers deep into obsessive fandom in this fast-paced thriller. Seventeen-year-old Bridget, described as having "milk-pale skin and russet colored hair," is a huge fan of RM Haldon's epic fantasy series "Swords and Shadows." She knows the entire series backward and forward and can remember the smallest details, from the complicated relationships between characters to how many times specific items have been mentioned or used in the series. When Haldon goes missing, Bridget and her companion Ajay, who is Indian American, explore the dark side of fantasy world enthusiasts. The book uncovers the ins and outs of LARPing (live action role-playing). Tension mounts as Henry's short chapters, which alternate focus between characters, add suspense and plunge readers into the darker side of fandom. Mentioning some of today's popular social media sites and the harm of the dark web makes it more realistic, all the while still maintaining a Misery-type vibe for today's readers. VERDICT An edgy, quick read for folks who love fantasy novels and authors.—Kharissa Kenner, Bank Street Sch. for Children, New York City
When the police do not believe that Portland, Oregon, author R.M. Haldon has been kidnapped, it’s up to his young researcher, Bridget Shepherd, to save him.
Famous fantasy author Haldon, who bears similarities to George R.R. Martin, has been trying to finish the much-anticipated final book in his Swords and Shadows series. What happens when he wakes up trapped in a cabin, chained to a treadmill desk, with some food and water and a note ordering him to write? Communicating via coded messages, he can only hope that Bridget, the 17-year-old high school student who helps him with research, will realize something is wrong. Bridget came into his life at a reading during which she demonstrated her encyclopedic knowledge of his world. Her attachment to the Swords and Shadows books stems from reading them with her mother during the painful years before she died of cancer. Afterward, lonely Bridget had few friends left, and her workaholic father was frequently absent. Now the books allow her to open up to classmate Ajay as she shares with him the fantasy world she loves—but, like the police, Ajay doubts her theory, and Bridget must act alone. The excellent pacing, shifting between the perspectives of the main characters, adds to the suspenseful feeling of a ticking clock, and readers come to understand everyone’s motivations. Apart from Indian American Ajay, main characters are White.
Offers a suspenseful and dastardly plot entwined with fan culture and mystery. (Thriller. 12-18)