Bad Witch Burning

Delacorte. Aug. 2021. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593177389.
Gr 9 Up–Katrell has a gift: she can communicate with the dead. When her dog is shot, however, Katrell accidentally taps into a side of her power she never knew she had: she can bring the dead back to life. Seizing what she sees as a lucrative opportunity to pull her family out of poverty, Katrell begins to experiment with her newfound necromancy, with the reluctant moral support of Will, her best friend. At first, it seems like the money she makes from the Revenants, what Will terms the resurrected bodies, will be enough to give Katrell some breathing room. But the paranormal turns quickly to horror, as the zombielike Revenants grow in power and agency. Their actions become extreme, leading to a gory and over-the-top chain of events that nearly breaks what little connection to life Katrell has left. Despite the somewhat theatrical climax, Katrell’s motivations through the book are very real in the face of her mom’s abusive partner, the more subtle psychological abuse she endures from her mother, and the poverty that threatens to crush them. Lewis has crafted a tale of horror with excellent pacing, visceral action, and characters who live with daily terror even before the resurrections. She deftly layers questions of power, trust, and love in a narrative that is hard to put down.
VERDICT A good choice for paranormal and horror collections.

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