A tedious tale of teens in purgatory suffers from clumsy prose, erratic worldbuilding, and an overabundance of characters and plotlines.
After being kidnapped, tortured and murdered by a serial killer called Bonesaw, Velvet is a bitter, defensive soul. She works on purgatory's Salvage team, retrieving trapped souls from the world of the living, and illegally sneaks back to haunt Bonesaw in her spare time. Meanwhile, a group of Departurists want to start a revolution, and destructive shadowquakes, caused by magic use among the living, grow increasingly common. The prose has a stylized, slick feel characterized by half-baked, stream-of-consciousness humor (“Blind?....Hungover? Either seemed a possible explanation for wearing sunglasses at night, or possibly a nod to crappy eighties songs”). Many themes show up only briefly: Velvet's pre-death love of cinema, for instance, or certain souls' addiction to huffing the gas used for lighting lamps. In general, the worldbuilding leaves a distracting number of questions unanswered: Against what kind of government are the Departurists rebelling, and why is a rule breaker like Velvet immediately certain they're wrong? If the dead can no longer eat or smoke, how can they kiss?
A few illuminating details eventually emerge, but not enough to make the slog through purgatory worth it. (Fantasy. 14-18)