Out of Salem

448p. Seven Stories Pr. Mar. 2019. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781609809010.
Gr 9 Up—After the car accident that killed their family, genderqueer 14-year-old Z Chilworth is left a zombie. Becoming undead in the city of Salem, OR, in the 1990s pushes Z into a world of monsters, magic, and prejudice that they had not given much thought to before, despite being a talented witch before their death and rebirth. Among openly hostile classmates and teachers, unreliable guardians, and an abusive police force with deep hatred for monsters, Z wonders how they will spend what is left of their unnaturally extended life, which, by all accounts, won't last much more than a year. But when they become friends with Aysel, an unregistered werewolf, and Tommy, an unregistered shape-shifter, Z starts to feel like there might be people worth fighting for—and standing with—after all. In this urban fantasy debut, Schrieve layers magical prejudices and very real hatred to make a powerful statement about sexuality, identity, and discrimination. With gritty humor and an extensive cast of characters, this story weaves together multiple threads to craft a rich, complicated near-past where being different might be a death sentence. Despite the grittiness of Schrieve's world, the message of the novel is still one of hope: at its core, the story is "about loving someone, and seeing them as part of your family." And, as one character tells Z, "some people have the capacity to see different people as part of their family and some don't."
VERDICT Purchase where urban fantasy is in high demand.

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