FICTION

Uncanny

544p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062290168.
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Gr 9 Up—Willow Jane's 16th birthday is marked by a citywide blackout in her hometown of Boston and a series of inexplicable events that range from eerie to downright horrifying. A 400-year-old witch, the Shadowless, who has a penchant for tearing people's thumbs off, emerges from her crypt seeking revenge for deeds done to her by Willow Jane's family centuries ago. In the ensuing hours, Willow Jane learns of the witch's vendetta and her own burgeoning supernatural power. Now the protagonist has to remove the witch's curse from her family and all of Boston before it is too late. The brevity of the chapters keeps the story moving at a rapid clip. Those who enjoy horror will appreciate vivid descriptions of the smell of seared skin, the appearance of a face with lips recently ripped off, and the feel of ravenous crows eating human flesh. The plethora of curses, curse blocks, and other elements inspired by Scottish folklore will enthrall fans of the supernatural, as will scenes in which Willow Jane manipulates time in order to achieve different outcomes. Willow Jane's tough-talking BFF, Siobhan, provides drams of comic relief and comforting realism. Harken, the witch's familiar who mesmerizes people with his good looks, has his own compelling backstory and he provides a romantic foil for Willow Jane.
VERDICT Consider buying where demand for horror novels is high.

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