An orphaned kid with a biography of misfortune must die to see that home and happiness live in the strangest places.
Gabe is no stranger to death. His parents are dead. His grandfather is dead. And after an unfortunate encounter with a weather vane, so is he. He thinks it’s all a misunderstanding until his uncaring caretaker turns him—and the gaping hole in his abdomen—away. The town echoes her revulsion by revolting against walking-dead Gabe with rocks, fists, and angry cries. His solace in his new, mysterious existence is his unflappably loyal dog and a strange girl (initially resembling an old friend named Niko) who rescues him from the mob. Not-Niko eventually reveals herself as Wynne, a long-dead girl who inherited the role of Death and wants to hand Gabe the baton. It’s a fate Gabe refuses—no matter how much he finds himself enjoying the company of Death. Set in the rural South, the novel has syrup-soaked, rich imagery that’s a sensory delight. Gabe’s voice is distinct, and his countrified vernacular layers heart and humor onto a sensitive premise. And the evolution of his conflict—embracing friendship with Wynne while avoiding the responsibility—reinforces the humanity amid the magic. Gabe is white, as is most of the community. Niko is Bangladeshi (represented only in memory), and Wynne is black; racism is not a driving plot point, but its mention underscores ever present small-minded reality.
A heck of a good read about the bright side of some durn bad luck. (Paranormal adventure. 10-12)