Poppy lives in Paraffin, Vermont, dominated by the Grosholtz Candle Factory, which is both industry and tourist attraction.
The white teen achieved fame by making a fool of herself in a disastrous television talent-show performance that went viral and now lives with constant ridicule and bullying. Ignoring that, she probes too deeply into the candle factory and finds a back area where the ancient Madame Grosholtz works making incredibly lifelike wax figures. The old woman gives Poppy a candle, which is strange enough—but then Poppy discovers a stowaway in her car: Dud, a white teen boy made of wax but very much alive. When the old area of the factory burns down, Poppy sees that Madame Grosholtz has been killed, but the woman’s candle soon begins to reveal that it is a testament from Madame Grosholtz, burning to uncover writing that warns Poppy of the dreadful truth about the factory owners. First, Poppy must convince her friends that the danger is real, and then somehow figure out how to stop the disaster. Damico writes a hybrid comedy-horror romp that can keep readers turning pages. The dry humor keeps the suspense from becoming truly terrifying, but the mix remains entertaining, especially when Poppy discovers some major secrets about who the factory owners really are.
An imaginative twist on an Invasion of the Body Snatchers theme, with comedy. (Horror. 12-18)