SpecFic Saturday | #CYBILS2023 Reviews 12.23.2023

What do the disappearance of a grandfather and vanishing letters have in common? They are at the heart of two captivating speculative fiction stories that take readers deep into page-turning stories of family ties, secrets, and the power of love.


Mark @ Mark My Words – This book focuses on the haunted Finch House and the author slowly builds reader anticipation of its creepy story. Micah’s love for her grandfather, Poppop, is at the core of the story.  The author has successfully developed a ghostly, eerie story and Finch House’s vast mood swings will keep readers on their toes. It’s very difficult to predict where the plot will travel when the house’s motives are unclear. Overall, this book should appeal to middle-grade readers and I recommend you give it a shot!

Katy @ A Library Mama – This was a wonderfully exciting and creepy story, beautifully read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt, whose expressive voice I recognized immediately. While it does mention the racism of redlining in passing, most of the story focuses on secrets both within Micah’s family and in Finch House’s past to solve the mystery behind its hauntings and disappearances.  Micah, in turn, gains confidence that will help her in her near future.

Gina @ Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – This was one of the SPOOKIEST Middle Grade Fiction titles I’ve read…and that’s only the beginning of all it captures between the pages! I think the reason it hits harder than some is the basis in reality.  It stakes it’s claim in the history of the house, builds on the story from once upon a time with connections to people, places, and issues that feel real, then feeds in a bit of otherworldliness that feels JUST RIGHT, or wrong depending on where you’re at in the story, but it’s a GOOD kind of wrong! So, whether you like a good mystery, a spooky ghosty story, or a heartfelt tale of family near and far just trying to stay connected across the miles (or time…just saying…), there’s something here for you.  I might suggest that younger readers hold off on reading it at night because things that go bump may seem a little bit more haunted after reading this tale, but you do you!


Stacy @ Book:30 – Reading Divine Rivals was like taking one long, heady, exquisite sigh. Ross’ writing is so beautiful – she is incredibly skilled at setting a scene and injecting subtle, clever touches of humor and heart throughout the text. I loved the magical letters sent back and forth between Iris and Roman, enjoyed their wit and banter, felt genuine tension during all the war scenes, and was interested in the mythology of gods meddling in the affairs of humans. This is not a big, flashy book. I agree with other reviewers who have called Divine Rivals “vulnerable,” “delicate,” “dreamy,” and “atmospheric.” I’ll be nursing some real angst over how the story ends as I wait for the sequel to release in December.

TheNextGenLibrarian @ Goodreads – This was such a unique YA fantasy book I can see why it’s so popular on #booktok It was Shadow and Bone meets Lore meets You’ve Got Mail. It ends on a cliffhanger so be prepared to want to grab the second novel immediately. CW: child abuse, alcoholism, panic attack, alcohol, smoking, blood/gore, physical injury, vomit, death of a sibling, drowning, death of a parent, war, poverty.