Monday's Muse, 41st edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): An Understanding by Harry Gregson-Williams [Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack].

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan.

From the moment Rachel's family takes in her orphaned cousin Julia, strange things start to happen. Rachel grows suspicious but soon finds herself alienated from her own life. Julia seems to have enchanted everyone to turn against her, leaving Rachel on her own to try and prove that Julia is a witch. One thing about Julia is certain-she is not who she says she is, and Rachel's family is in grave danger.

Legacy of Lies by Elizabeth Chandler.

Megan isn't looking forward to visiting her mother's mother, who has summoned her. Helen Barnes's coolness toward her granddaughter goes beyond the fact that Megan was adopted. As the days pass, strange dreams haunt the teen and give way to uncanny placements of household objects that had been removed or abandoned years ago. Megan struggles with many things: her physical attraction to her cousin; the feeling that she had lived in this forbidding house before; and the fact that her grandmother grows more hostile with each day. The girl's uneasiness bursts into fear as she discovers that she is destined to repeat the tragic incident that killed her grandmother's younger sister many years before. The author blends reality and the supernatural into an engaging suspense novel. Each character, both primary and supporting, continues to develop throughout the story, and the true murderer is not revealed until the end. Carefully drawn chapters bring readers into Megan's mystery and leave them satisfied at the end. A good choice for teens who enjoy a blend of mystery, suspense, romance, and the supernatural.--Jana R. Fine, Clearwater Public Library System, FL, School Library Journal.

Devil's Footsteps by E.E. Richardson.

Bryan was 10 when his brother, Adam, just . . . disappeared. That was five years ago, and now Bryan is the only one who seems to remember what happened.

Until he meets two others with their own unsolved mysteries. It seems that Adam isn’t the first to disappear. Someone or something is after the kids in their neighborhood.

The adults can’t hear it, and they can’t see it or feel it—but the kids can. And it all comes back to the skipping rhyme that every child in town knows by heart . . . and the Dark Man who haunts everyone’s worst nightmares—while they’re awake.

No Shame, No Fear by Ann Turnbull.

In 1662 the British Parliament passed the Quaker Act, making it treason to refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to the King and also making it illegal for the Friends of Truth, another name for the Quakers, to meet. It is during this time that 15-year-old Quaker Susanna and 17-year-old Anglican William meet and fall in love. To complicate matters, William, the son of the mayor, finds himself drawn to the Quaker faith, and Susanna's parents, friends, and mentor are imprisoned and persecuted. Susanna is also targeted for punishment after she continues to hold meetings with the children while the adults are in jail. This is a well-told historical tale, engaging and informative. The quality of the storytelling makes one wish for further resources or a historical note, but that doesn't detract from an enjoyable reading experience. --Cindy Welch, Booklist.

Fear and Laundry by Elizabeth Myles.

When seventeen-year-old Veronica Montez and her best friend Lia discover their favorite hangout’s about to go bankrupt, they put together a benefit concert to try and rescue the grungy Laundromat-slash-rock venue. All they need’s a guitarist to round out their new punk band so they can headline the show. Enter Lia’s virtuoso brother, Jake, who unexpectedly drops out of college and returns home just in time to fill the bill.

Veronica soon bonds with gifted but temperamental Jake over their affinity for gory horror flicks and discovers he’s as ambivalent about his future as she is. Talk about terrifying. If someone as smart and talented as Jake can’t figure out his life, what hope does Veronica have? Really Liking Jake scares her, too, though she can’t decide if she’s more afraid he won’t like her back or that he will. Something tells her he'd be interested in more than just hooking up, and while fake blood and guts and machete-wielding movie maniacs don’t faze her, the thought of risking her heart in a real relationship sends chills up Veronica’s spine.

Dread Locks: Dark Fusion #1 by Neal Shusterman.

Shusterman brings a new and unique perspective to the old Medusa story. Parker Baer, 14, has plenty of material possessions but is bored. Then Tara, with her spirals of golden hair and dark sunglasses, moves in next door. Within a short time, Parker's family and friends are sick and behaving strangely. When Tara takes him on a death ride that takes them over a cliff and neither is injured, the horror of her power becomes clear to him. As the situation becomes grimmer, the teen is forced to confront her with bone-chilling, spine-tingling results. Exotic and strange Tara keeps readers on the edge of their seats with her unconventional behavior and unusual perspective on everyday life. The plot twists and turns move the story toward an unexpected end. In a horrifying climax, Shusterman delivers the moral of the tale, unusual in itself, for most books of this genre rarely deliver a message so powerfully. However, it is the gross-out factor that readers will remember. Eating kitty litter with milk, statues with fingerprints, and other unexplained (until the very end) behaviors will keep readers turning the pages even as they shudder to think what will come next. The book's front cover will attract teens, and the title perfectly fits the story. A good addition for those libraries with horror lovers who have moved on from R.L. Stine's "Fear Street" series.–Molly S. Kinney, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, School Library Journal.

The Midnighters #1: The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld.

A few nights after Jessica Day arrives in Bixby, Oklahoma, she wakes up at midnight to find the entire world frozen, except for her and a few others who call themselves 'midnighters'. Dark things haunt this midnight hour – dark things with a mysterious interest in Jessica. The question is Why?

The Secret Hour is a compelling tale of dark secrets, midnight romance, eerie creatures, courage, destiny, and unexpected peril.

In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.

Three-hundred-year-old Risika looks darn good for her age. Thanks to her "blood mother," a vampire named Ather who turned Risika (nee Rachel) into one of the undead back in 1684, she will always look as fresh as a 17-year-old. Now Risika is a world weary night stalker who sleeps in Concord, Massachusetts, by day and prowls New York City by night, in search of fresh blood to slake her inhuman thirst. One of the benefits of living such a long life has been discovering that most of the popular myths about vampires are not true: "Holy water and crosses do not bother me... and silver does not burn me. If someone hammered a stake through my heart, I suppose I would die, but I do not play with humans, stakes or mallets." In fact, there is little in the mortal world that surprises Risika anymore, until she returns from a hunt one night to find a black rose on her pillow--the same flower she was given on the eve of her mortal death. Knowing that the rose is a taunt from Aubrey, a vampire she believes murdered her human brother, Risika decides to confront her nemesis. In a bloody battle with Aubrey, Risika finally unearths her brother's true fate.

While the plot of this vampire tale may not stand out from the fanged masses of the genre, what does stand out is the fact that the author is 14 years old. Teen horror fans of Anne Rice and L.J. Smith will surely want to experience for themselves how In the Forests of the Night stacks up to their favorite adult titles--and will be especially interested in seeing how one of their young peers plies the writing trade. (Ages 12 to 15) --Jennifer Hubert, review.

Killer's Cousin by Nancy Werlin.

Many secrets bubble just beneath the surface of this skillful thriller narrated by a high-school senior who has been accused?and acquitted?of murdering his girlfriend. David Yaffe moves from Baltimore to Cambridge to avoid publicity, but instead of finding refuge with Uncle Vic, Aunt Julia and cousin Lily, he is shown to their attic apartment and expected to fend for himself. His relatives appear to be conducting a cold war. Still blaming each other for their daughter Kathy's suicide four years ago, Julia and Vic have stopped speaking to each other. The one who suffers the most from their silence is 11-year-old Lily, who shows signs of being emotionally disturbed. Suspense rises to a feverish pitch as pieces of a complex puzzle fall into place, involving Kathy's death and Julia and Vic's estrangement from each other and from David's parents. Even Kathy's ghost seems to make an appearance, imploring David to "help Lily." Meanwhile, Lily is doing everything she can to turn her parents against him. David's attempts to pull the family together fail miserably until, in the aftermath of a chilling climax, he confronts his own demons as he attempts to help Lily dispel hers. The novel's gothic flavor, compelling minor characters (David's skinhead friend, Frank, and Raina, a college student and artist) and subtle exploration of guilt and complicity add texture to this tense psychological drama. Werlin (Are You Alone on Purpose?) leaves enough unanswered questions to make readers want to keep lights burning a little longer than usual. --Publisher's Weekly.