Horror is a way of life in my household. While other mothers (who, let’s face it…are probably better suited to be a parent than myself) are going over multiplication flash cards or baking cookies. I am busy teaching my children about the complexities of Cujo, or George A. Romero.
See…I love being scared. I love the way the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I know something (most likely hairy and with very large teeth) is lurking around the corner. The pounding in my chest when my adrenaline kicks into high gear. The shudder that runs down my spine at the meer mention of June Bugs. Horror (for all intents and purposes) is my drug of choice. And though I very rarely review the genre (because I want to indulge in it, not analyze it) its books like Velveteen that make me feel as though keeping my “drug” to myself…is a disservice to all of you equally as warped individuals.
“Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.
The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.
Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.
It’ll be brutal . . . and awesome.
But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.
Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules . . . or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.”
Remember when you were 10 and your local librarian told you to “Never judge a book by its cover!” This is one of those times. On the outside this book looks (though slightly gray and a tad creepy) just like every other generic YA book out there. Boy + Girl = another festering romance. And while yes, this book does have it’s fair share of bubble hearts and longing glances, the word “festering” is what you should actually be focusing on.
I’d like to submit, as evidence, the very first sentence.
“When Velveteen Monroe pictured Bonesaw’s house – and she did, more often than could be considered healthy – blood striped the paint and muddy reddish-brown, internal organs floated in jars of formaldehyde, and great big taxidermy crows leered from branches that twisted from the wall like palsied arms.”
Oh, that wasn’t enough to convince you? Ok…let’s take another peek into the evidence locker.
“Quentin shuffled backwards, and when he did, his left ear slid down his head. It tumbled off his shoulder with a wet plopping sound. He fumbled it between his fingers, popping it into the air like a hot potato and then missing it as it fell with a splat between his feet.”
Believe me now?
To be perfectly honest (Geez I use that phrase a lot.) this book was not what I was expecting. I’m not daft, I did read the synopsis and yes, I know what the word “purgatory” means, but to literarily solidifying it into a place where trapped souls not only eat, sleep and shop but also WORK was waaaay outside my mind’s realm of possibilities. (That’s code for: I wasn’t smart enough to think it up myself.)
Jobs? Yes sir-e-Bob. Jobs!
Velvet (the protagonist in this story) was unfortunate enough to get herself wacked. (Literally.) And since she had some unfinished business to attend to (hello…she was a teenager when she found herself floating around in the land of the dead) she landed her snarky (hold on, that should be capitalized.) SNARKY self in purgatory. Once there she was chosen (by way of knitting needle to the palm) to be a Salvager. Salvagers (in short) spend their time recovering kidnapped or trapped souls in the land of the living.
Think of it this way, you know that creepy lady at the state fair who claims she (by peering into her crystal ball) can connect you to your long-lost pug Stanley? Chances are she’s a total kook. But, if she’s not and Stanley feels the need to tell you he’s doing just dandy way up there in doggy heaven, she’s not doing it by intuition or a divine right. Nope, she’s jacked some poor souls, um, soul and trapped him in that sparkly ball of togetherness. Velvets job? Smash the orb and send the soul packing.
Sounds easy, until you factor in a little purgatory political unrest and the fact that Velvet is too obsessed with haunting her murder (Though I can’t say I blame her for that one.) to focus on what pays her bills. (Or even what’s going on around her.)
Add all of that to a cute boy (who just happens to have a knack for creating flies) and what you get is a fast paced (ACTION PACKED!) highly enjoyable look at somewhere “in between.”
The downside? (Because I’m a total hardass and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t “pick” just a little.) Marks throws his readers head first into the deep end during his world building. If you blink more than once, or let your mind wander a little too far, chances are you are going to have to back track to figure out what the H E double hockey sticks is going on.
But (and this is positive me speaking again.) this book is totally worth the confusion crease the first half of this book will plop down right between your eyes.
I read this straight through in 1 sitting. It’s 464 pages long. Just think about that for a second.
If you enjoy a little scary with your straight. This one is a solid win. A little pricey, but I deem it worthy of the splurge.
And…just so you don’t think I was being a little “dramatic” with the word snark, here is a snippet I particularly liked. (Take that American Idol!)
“Blind? Velvet wondered. Hungover? Either seemed a possible explanation for wearing sunglasses at night, or possibly a not to crappy eighties songs. Velvet sensed a tinge of something sinister about the woman at that very moment – something evil, like when she saw people wearing fur or gushing over the excruciatingly awesome talents of American Idol winners. It was more than just a possibility that the fortune-teller was in possession of a little dark magic.”
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Sometimes being a B has it’s benefits. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.
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