I’m back on the reviewing wagon for now, after an awfully long hiatus. I did a lot of reading during that hiatus, not least of which was the group of Cybils Award finalists for Young Adult Speculative Fiction. It was a REALLY varied group this time, and I found myself wondering a bit how the final list was arrived at because clearly there were a lot of tough contenders in Round 1. That’s how it is every time I’ve been a Round 2 judge–for the final decision, you’re subject to a different group’s choices for the shortlist. It’s also thought-provoking to read those selections and discuss them as Round 2 judges coming from a variety of bookish backgrounds. Anyway, I made notes on each book as I read, and wanted to feature each of them here on the blog, as I have customarily done in past years. (Except last year, I think, when I had other crap going on.)
Bad Witch Burning was a page-turner with a LOT of teen appeal! Katrell, the narrator, has the power to talk to the dead, and she’s been using it to earn money to help support her family. Then, one day, she discovers she actually has even MORE power than that–the power to bring back the dead. Of course, the revenants she brings back are not…exactly…as they were in life. And soon, her great power lands her in serious trouble as she struggles with the inevitable great responsibility that’s attached to it, even as she sees it as a lifeline to rescue her family for good.
The revenants were a fun twist on the usual zombie tale, and the difficulties in the character’s everyday life added a lot of depth and interest as things begin to spin out of control. She makes a lot of wrong choices—some relatable, some a bit more farfetched, but I enjoyed her journey toward a deeper self-empowerment, and watching her navigate the differences between revenge and justice.