October Schwartz and her five dead co-conspirators are back again to solve a double mystery tied to the unsavory history of Stickville, Ontario, in this fourth installment from Munday.
For this most recent round of resurrection, October and the dead kids plan to investigate the death of their own Tabetha Scott, a black girl who died a few years after her escape from slavery, and its possible connection to the sinister Asphodel Meadows society. The mystery only deepens when a furtive pair is seen making salt circles around children’s graves in the cemetery—circles the dead kids can’t pass through. As if her detective plate weren’t full enough, tensions skyrocket at school when $5,000 is stolen during the Band Warz competition, and the band accused of the crime asks October to clear their names. Munday’s narrative, mannered as ever with alternating narration and typeface changes, steers readers to consider systemic racism both as Tabetha slowly remembers her escape via the Underground Railroad and the discrimination she faced after arriving in Canada as well as the racist underpinnings of the frame job against the only nonwhite band at school arise. White guilt and angst over absolution—particularly October’s—is prioritized perhaps a touch too much, but a fairly elegant interweave of three mysteries that refuses to pull punches (historical or otherwise) regarding discrimination and with more than enough tantalizing intrigue and mortal danger to go around is enticing nonetheless.
A draw for veterans and newcomers alike. (Supernatural mystery. 12-15)