In amagical, poetic prologue, Meggie, in her cradle, is blessed by a tarantula: ""Shimmer when you jump; glitter when you walk."" At 15, Meggie is a happy member of a nice black family living in the beautiful area bordering the Eucalyptus Forest, near Berkeley. But terrible things are happening: teenagers are being killed in the forest; Meggie herself finds one of the bodies. She goes through a bizarre run-in with the villains, who turn out to be collecting young hearts to transplant into rich, elderly youth-seekers; and with the aid of her spider friends and a boyfriend, she triumphs over them. Thomas dramatically juxtaposes her story's horror with the joy of existence; and her appealing heroine, fast pace, and SF overtones will absorb readers. The book is distinguished by a lyrical style grounded in the black experience, with a strong resemblance to Virginia Hamilton's distinctive voice. Although there is nothing unusual in her plot, Thomas has nearly integrated into it a celebration of the value of black youth (especially teen-age males) and the message that fear is overcome when we ""carry a light in our heart.