WRETCHED WATERPARK (The Sinister Summer Series), by Kiersten White, Delacorte Press, June 7, 2022, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
What better way to kick off the summer than to visit Wretched Waterpark, the first book in Kiersten White’s new Sinister Summer Series?
Meet the Sinister-Winterbottoms: brave Theo, her timid twin, Alexander, and their older sister, Wil. They’re stuck for the summer with their Aunt Saffronia, who doesn’t know how often children need to eat and can’t use a smartphone, and whose feet never quite seem to touch the floor when she glides — er — walks.
When Aunt Saffronia suggests a week pass to the Fathoms of Fun Waterpark, they hastily agree. But the park is even stranger than Aunt Saffronia. The waterslides look like gray gargoyle tongues. The employees wear creepy black dresses and deliver ominous messages. An impossible figure is at the top of the slide tower, people are disappearing, and suspicious goo is seeping into the wave pool.
Something mysterious is happening at Fathoms of Fun, and it’s up to the twins to get to the bottom of it. The mystery, that is. NOT the wave pool. Definitely NOT the wave pool. But are Theo and Alexander out of their depth? —Synopsis provided by Delacorte Press
Kiersten White is well known for her YA books including, the Camelot Rising Trilogy starring Guinevere, the Conquerer’s Saga about Vlad the Impaler, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein — a reimagining of Frankenstein — and the Paranormalcy trilogy about a teen who works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. All of the books are well worth reading, but Wretched Waterpark is a whole new animal.
Wretched Waterpark is White’s second foray (Beanstalker and Other Hilariously Scary Tales, July 2017) into the world of middle-grade fiction, and she does it flawlessly. From the book’s faux Gothic tone to White’s tongue-in-cheek prose this book hits all the right notes.
This is one book where the setting — the Fathoms of Fun Waterpark — is just as important as the characters. White deftly transports readers to this creepy world and allows the park and its inhabitants to carry some of the load.
Theo and Alexander are a strong duo, well in tune with each other while having vastly different personalities and interests. The twins older sister Wil starts out obnoxious — she is glued to her smartphone all the time — but redeems herself in the end.
Wretched Waterpark is a fast-paced adventure that should have wide-spread appeal, particularly for fans of the Lemony Snickett series. It is the first book in a planned series following the Sinister-Winterbottom twins as they solve mysteries at increasingly bizarre summer vacation destinations in the hopes of being reunited with their parents. The second book, Vampiric Vacation, is slated for a September 2022 release.
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