MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation ATTENTION: (1) MCPL is closed 3/17–6/15; (2) curbside pickup starts 5/4: details.

Staff Reviews: fiction

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library! (For reviews in all genres, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


Cover: 'Wishtree'

"Wishtree" by Katherine Applegate

★★★★ Red, the unusual narrator of this story, has heard practically everything from the generations of people that have visited him and shared their hopes, dreams and definitely lots of wishes. But still he stays silent, until one day when Samar and Stephen, two very lonely children from two very different families wish for a friend, he has to find a way to...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Nest'

"The Nest" by Kenneth Oppel

★★★★ This tale is told from the perspective of Steven, a tween with OCD. His anxiety acts up again after the birth of his brother Theo, who his parents worry may have mental or other disabilities. I was immediately hooked by the creepy details which sounded like the makings for an episode of Doctor Who. Steven’s recurring nightmare is of a figure standing...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Little Fires Everywhere'

"Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng

★★★★ Almost every member of the Richardson family has something going for them. The family, headed up by matriarch Elena, lives in the wealthy and picture-perfect Cleveland suburb of Shaker, where people’s lives are practically planned out for them before they’re born. One day, the family wakes to find their home on fire. A fire that is, without a doubt,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Girl with the Ghost Machine'

"The Girl with the Ghost Machine" by Lauren DeStefano

★★★★ Emmaline’s father misses her mother so much after her premature death that he builds a ghost machine to bring her back. But in the two years he spends tinkering with it night and day, it still won’t work properly. Emmaline, frustrated by the way the machine has consumed her father’s life, attempts to break the machine by pouring her cup of tea into it. Then...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A House Without Mirrors'

"A House Without Mirrors" by Mårten Sandén, Karin Altenberg

★★★★ After the death of her baby brother, Thomasine is staying with her cousins at her Great Aunt Henrietta’s house. The curious thing is that there are no mirrors hanging anywhere in this sprawling old manor. Then Thomasine’s five-year-old cousin Signe, who hardly ever speaks, comes out from the wardrobe where the mirrors are all hidden away, suddenly...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Magpie Murders'

"Magpie Murders" by Anthony Horowitz

★★★★★ With this book you get two mysteries to solve—one is a classic whodunit (Magpie Murders) that brings to mind Agatha Christie, and the other is a modern day mystery surrounding its author and manuscript. Susan Ryeland is an editor at a small publishing house whose fortunes were built on the success of prickly author Alan Conway’s Atticus Pünd series, and she...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Final Girls'

"Final Girls" by Riley Sager

★★★★ Quincy Carpenter lives in New York City and is the curator of her own popular baking blog. But 10 years ago, she was the lone survivor of a brutal serial slaying in the middle of the woods, known as the Pine Cottage Murders. Though the rest of her college friends were stabbed to death by a deranged mental patient, Quincy survived and was branded by the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery, thriller, suspense, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Tumble & Blue'

"Tumble & Blue" by Cassie Beasley

★★★★★ Dumped on the porch of his grandmother’s house in the middle of nowheresville by his father (who supposedly is working some things out), Blue Montgomery feels even more cursed. The whole Montgomery family is the victim of a curse originated many generations ago, supposedly by an ancestor's encounter with a legendary golden alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Jane, Unlimited'

"Jane, Unlimited" by Kristin Cashore

★★★★★ Eighteen-year-old Jane is adrift. After the recent death of her beloved Aunt Magnolia, who raised the orphaned Jane, she dropped out of college and is working at the campus bookshop when she gets an unexpected invitation. Her former tutor, Kiran Thrash, invites her to the spring gala at her family’s island estate, Tu Reviens. Jane might not have accepted...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Spirit Hunters'

"Spirit Hunters" by Ellen Oh

★★★★★ Harper Raine is sure that there is something really wrong with the old Gothic house that her family is moving into, beyond the repairs and renovations that her parents are making. She can sense it, and a neighborhood girl who becomes her friend confirms that it is rumored to be haunted. And then there’s Billy, a boy her four-year-old brother Michael...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Mrs. Fletcher'

"Mrs. Fletcher" by Tom Perrotta

★★★★★ Eve Fletcher is a 40-something divorcee whose life is at a crossroads. Her only child, Brendan, has just left for his freshman year of college, leaving Eve to figure out what to do now that she's on her own. Late one night, she receives a sexually explicit text from an anonymous number, which initially startles Eve but later intrigues...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Dead Woman Walking'

"Dead Woman Walking" by Sharon Bolton

★★★★★ In this gripping new novel, readers meet the lone survivor of a hot air balloon accident. Right before the balloon was ripped out of the sky, those inside witnessed a brutal crime. Knowing she exposed her face to the killer on the ground, the lone survivor stumbles from the scene of the accident, trying to stay alive. But is she really running to a safe...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Apprentice Witch'

"The Apprentice Witch" by James Nicol

★★★★★ Sneaking out of her grandmother’s house early in the morning, young Arianwyn Gribble believes she is ready to become a full-fledged witch and take the Civil Witchcraft Authority’s evaluation and receive an assignment to serve her community. But then she loses her focus during the exam, the evaluation gauge supposedly malfunctions, and she is disappointingly...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Windfall'

"The Windfall" by Diksha Basu

★★★★★ In East Delhi, the Jha's are accustomed to their middle class life in their apartment complex. Their only son, Rupak, is in America studying for his MBA, and Mr. and Mrs. Jha are content despite their small kitchen and nosy neighbors. When Mr. Jha sells his website for an exorbitant amount of money, the Jha's find themselves moving up not...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming'

"The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming" by J. Anderson Coats

★★★★ Jane’s father was killed in the Civil War leaving her stern stepmother, brother and herself almost penniless. Like many other war widows and their families seeking new husbands and a prosperous life they board a ship to the west. Jane’s main job, since her father’s death and on the ship, is running after and caring for her little brother Jer. But she has...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'There's Someone Inside Your House'

"There's Someone Inside Your House" by Stephanie Perkins

★★★ Makani Young is still getting used to her new school and her new life in rural Nebraska when a sudden string of grotesque slayings rocks the community. Some of the most well-liked and talented students at the high school are turning up murdered in incredibly bloody and gruesome displays - including the lead in the fall musical and the star of the football...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, suspense

Cover: 'Forever, or a Long, Long Time'

"Forever, or a Long, Long Time" by Caela Carter

★★★★★ How can Flora ever believe in forever? After being shuttled from foster home to foster home longer than she or her brother Julian can even remember, how can she trust her new mother (who she calls Person because there have been way too many mothers) after they are adopted and promised a forever home. Carrying scars from their past, Flora has trouble getting...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Revival, Volume One: You're Among Friends'

"Revival, Volume One: You're Among Friends" by Tim Seeley

★★★★ The day is January 2 and it's the dead of winter. It seems to be just another ordinary day in Marathon County, Wisconsin, that is, until everyone who passed away on January 1 suddenly comes back to life. Soon, all of Marathon County finds itself under a strict quarantine imposed by the federal government and tensions begin to run high. "Revival" focuses...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, graphic novel, thriller, paranormal

Cover: 'Beyond the Bright Blue Sea'

"Beyond the Bright Blue Sea" by Lauren Wolk

★★★★★ Home for twelve-year-old Crow, as far as she has ever known, is desolate Elizabeth Island, Massachusetts, with Osh who found her as a baby adrift in a boat at sea, and Miss Maggie, the kind neighbor who lives across the sandbar.  Crow is happy with her life, but she yearns to know where she came from and who her parents are. After witnessing a fire on...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'One For Sorrow: A Ghost Story'

"One For Sorrow: A Ghost Story" by Mary Downing Hahn

★★★★★ Shy, timid, Annie Browne probably would have had a hard time making new friends anyway, but arriving as the new girl at the finest school in the city makes it even more intimidating. Unfortunately, just as she arrives, a friendless, unlikable girl at school, Elsie Schneider, grabs her for her friend. Trouble is, Elsie wants exclusive rights to Annie and she...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Salt Line'

"The Salt Line" by Holly Goddard Jones

★★★★★ In this future version of the United States, a deadly tick-borne disease has driven the population to live in regional zones. These safe areas are separated from the out-of-zone area by bands of scorched earth and large, vibrating walls—the salt lines. Life in-zone is dominated by technology and the digital world, and it’s a regimented but safe existence....

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Eliza and Her Monsters'

"Eliza and Her Monsters" by Francesca Zappia

★★★★★ In real life, Eliza strives for invisibility at school, where she’s known for being quiet, awkward, and (in the eyes of her classmates) a freak, and at home, where she’s the unathletic anomaly. In the digital world, she’s Lady Constellation, the creator of a wildly popular webcomic, Monstrous Sea, and her two best friends (Max and Emmy) are the keepers or...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore'

"Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore" by Matthew J. Sullivan

★★★★ After a haunting past, Lydia lives a quiet life as a bookstore clerk. When she finds a favorite patron dead in the stacks, holding a photo of Lydia as a child in his hand, Lydia's life spirals out control. With her past suddenly coming closer into focus, Lydia is forced to confront memories she shares with no one else. Who was the frequent bookstore patron...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Great Treehouse War'

"The Great Treehouse War" by Lisa Graff

★★★★★ If Winnie’s parents weren't acting so obsessively strange, and so hung up on spending exactly the same amount of time with her, the great treehouse war, as it was being called by the media, probably would not have happened.  When Winnie Malladi-Maradi’s  parents divorce and decide to share time with her equally,  they also decide that since...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Sputnik's Guide to Life On Earth'

"Sputnik's Guide to Life On Earth" by Frank Cottrell Boyce

★★★★★ Sent to a live with a foster family in the country the summer after his grandad could no longer care for Prez or himself, the only thing Prez Mellows can focus on is finding and being together with his grandad again. Enter Sputnik, an alien, who appears to be a dog (with leather helmet and pilot goggles) to everyone except Prez, who declares that he has...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Pages