A teen hellion realizes her calling as a grim reaper in this derivative but enjoyable novel set in an unusual town in upstate New York.
Previously perfectly well adjusted, Lex has spent the last couple of years hitting, spitting, swearing and acting out violent urges that she herself doesn’t understand. Her parents decide to ship her off to her Uncle Mort in Croak, hoping that hard farm labor will jog sense into her. Little do they know that Mort is the mayor of a community whose inhabitants are all involved in ensuring the humane transference of the dead into the next realm. Mort pairs her with cute but antagonistic Driggs, and the two grapple comically with their growing feelings for one another throughout. Many of the details here have a distinctly Potteresque feel—Lex is the most powerful Grim in a millennia, but bears similarity to a legendarily terrible villain. However, the central mystery is genuinely puzzling, and Lex’s narrative voice is funny and fresh—“Maybe this was one of those things that people should keep to themselves, like a hatred of baby pandas or a passion for polka music.” An unexpectedly (and frustratingly) abrupt conclusion leaves no doubt that there will be a sequel.
Fantasy fans who like their tales gritty and filled with irreverent humor will be eager for the follow-up. (Paranormal comedy. 13-18)