Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Young People's Literature
A Publishers Weekly Best Young Adult Book of 2019
The best Teen Zombie Werewolf Witchy Faerie fantasy murder mystery you've ever read—by debut author, Hal Schrieve.
Genderqueer fourteen-year-old Z Chilworth has to adjust quickly to their new status as a zombie after waking from death from a car crash that killed their parents and sisters. Always a talented witch, Z now can barely perform magic and is rapidly decaying. Faced with rejection from their remaining family members and old friends, Z moves in with their mother's friend, Mrs. Dunnigan, and befriends Aysel, a loud would-be-goth classmate who is, like Z, a loner. As Z struggles to find a way to repair the broken magical seal holding their body together, Aysel fears that her classmates will discover her status as an unregistered werewolf. When a local psychiatrist is murdered by what seems to be werewolves, the town of Salem, Oregon, becomes even more hostile to "monsters," and Z and Aysel are driven together in an attempt to survive a place where most people wish that neither of them existed.
Rarely has a first-time author created characters of such immediacy and power as Z, Aysel, Tommy (suspected fey) and Elaine (also a werewolf), or a world that parallels our own so clearly and disturbingly.
Debut author Schrieve stuns with this tale set in a 1997 Salem, Ore., where the authorities control magic and the monsters are emphatically not the LGBTQ zombie and werewolf protagonists. Z, 14, had just begun to acknowledge their genderqueer identity when their entire family is killed in a car accident. Now a zombie without a custodian, Z faces slow degeneration and until a widowed lesbian bookstore owner offers guardianship the prospect of incineration. Z's bullied classmate, Turkish Muslim Aysel Tahir, hasn't come out as gay and lives secretly as an unregistered werewolf. Anti-monster sentiments across Salem reaches a fever pitch as a mysterious murder is pinned on werewolves; both students, fearing for their safety, must rely on trusted teacher and sorcerer Mr. Weber, a group of conflicted young adult werewolves, and fellow student Tommy, who has secrets of his own. Schrieve conjures intricate magic vital to the plot, pushes the book's leads to grow amid the book's ratcheting tension, and provides incisive social commentary via monster-tale tropes. Any reader who has felt it necessary to hide their true identity will find strong characters to connect with in this fun, powerful story. Ages 12 up.