HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Nov. 2021. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063008779.
Gr 4-7–Part fantasy, part dystopian tale, this is a unique, genre-bending story of friendship, trust, and found families. Gussy is a determined, independent girl who is in training as the protector of her village out in the desert. The Great Doom has been fought off by her Grandpa Widow for many years, so when he suddenly gets called away, Gussy is left to defend the town against this dark and magical force. The biggest rule of them all is not to open the gate after dark, so when Gussy does (to save a life), she has to face the repercussions. Gussy’s strong personality and unwavering commitment to her grandfather, against common sense, may turn off some readers. There are also points in the story where the characters become possessed by the Great Doom, which switches this story from fantasy and dystopian to pure horror, with humans crawling on top of the ceiling and hissing. Even with repetitive plot points, the story moves along quicker in the second half, and there is a happily ever after for all the characters that will leave readers satisfied.
VERDICT Fans of fantasy and horror may enjoy this unique tale, but some shortcomings may cause it to fall flat for others.

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