Published: May 2018
Page count: 305
Genre: Horror / Young Adult
Goodreads: See here
Plot at a Glance:
Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.
So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.
Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again
I had every good intention of reading and reviewing this book last October as one of my Halloween reads. Unfortunately, that was right about when my life was fully turned upside down, so I had to put this one on hold for awhile. But it’s always been my intention to come back to it and do Lily Anderson justice and get this review up – though it wasn’t until recently I got the chance to jump back into this book.
Once I did, I was hooked! There’s something about YA Supernatural/Paranormal genre that just draws me to it. YA Horror inspires nostalgia in the old school Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan in me. Teenagers messing with forces beyond their perception and then dealing with the fallout of their choices has always been a plot bend that I can get behind.
Anderson does a great job of keeping the plot chugging along at a rapid clip by situating the whole murder-mystery within the challenge of only giving the characters 7 days to solve the case. This allows the plot to bounce back and forth between the two subplots, presenting Mila and her friends with new and interesting challenges along the way.
I also really enjoyed the dynamic between Mila and her friends. Riley and Mila are both wonderfully drawn women. They felt realistic to me, and I believed in their friendship even when they were at odds with one another. June and Dayton weren’t as fully developed, but they provide necessary comic relief like a pair of undead mean girls.
Of all the characters, Mila was challenging in that she really rubbed me the wrong way. A lot of her motivations seemed selfish, and she was petty and judgmental of everyone around her. The supporting characters were fun enough though for me to forgive any issues I had with Mila.
One other thing this book has going for it is the diversity – and the respect that is paid to that diversity by Anderson. Mila is Latinx, and defines herself as fat, and unabashedly confronts racism, sexism and fatshaming in this novel. It’s very progressive in its dialogue, which I think is important given our era.
I was only a little let down in that I wish the final act of the book had packed a bit more punch. There’s a whole romance subplot that seemed forced to me, and the way the mystery plot concludes sort of fizzles rather than sparks and explodes the way it could have. There’s an aspect of the ending that rubbed me the wrong way, but to discuss it more in depth is sort of to engage spoilers, which I’m not going to do.
Still, this was an enjoyable read for me, and it grew on me even more in the days since finishing it. For those concerned about the scare factor in this book – have no fear. Anderson doesn’t set out to scare her readers. This is more black comedy with a paranormal bend than it is scary. The supernatural context of the character’s dilemma allows them to examine their situation: sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, but they remain stoic against it as they search for answers.
If you’re looking for a quick read that moves at a quick pace, then look no further. I’m sure you’ll find a lot to appreciate here.
🌟🌟🌟🌟 = 4/5 stars!
Have you read this? What did you think of it? What other YA horror or scary reads do you love?