The Coldest Touch

Razorbill. Dec. 2021. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593350430.
Gr 9 Up–Since Elise’s brother drowned last spring on her 16th birthday, she’s experienced the future death of any person she touches. Even passing brushes set off her “curse,” forcing her into isolation, made worse by losing her swim team friends and Olympic dreams to her new dread of water. Claire, an immortal vampire forever stuck at age 17, is the shepherd assigned to help Elise accept and use her powers as the Death Oracle and join forces with the Veil, a mysterious organization governing paranormal entities. Claire has a mission of her own, seeking revenge on the vampire who turned her. Elise and Claire’s fraught and developing relationship forms the emotional core of this queer paranormal romance as the girls try to stop the supernatural serial killer rampaging through town. While Sterling’s plot hits predictable points, the characters’ rich backstories and authentic teen voices make this book an enjoyable ride through the genre. Elise and Claire are white, Elise’s ex-boyfriend Jordan is Black, and her best friend is Korean American. The book includes lesbian, bisexual, and nonbinary representation.
VERDICT This slightly sardonic queer take on paranormal romance is a solid read-alike choice for fans of Kate Williams’s The Babysitters Coven, Lily Anderson’s Undead Girl Gang, or Sterling’s previous work.

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