Saturday, April 14, 2012
Croak, by Gina Damico (fiction) - M for Uncle Mort, the Grim Reaper
never shows up for family reunions...
Bet yours isn't a Grim Reaper, though!
Spider-silk soul vessels, death-sensing jellyfish, John Wilkes Booth arm-wrestling Elvis Presley in the atrium of the Afterlife - Lex has lots to get used to as she learns how to travel through the Ether and release souls from the bodies of the just-dead.
And then, against the Terms of Execution which allow Gamma Removal and Immigration Managers to swiftly transport souls to the Afterlife, a rogue Grim begins actually causing deaths.
Contrary to popular belief, Grims aren't immortal, so the good folks of Croak begin rightly to fear for their lives. The "Welcome to Croak" sign's population number clicks up and down as residents enter and leave the town. Will it keep clicking down and down?
Pick up this funny and serious book in paperback now at your local library or independent bookstore. And be sure to see the Croak Skull Illusion Scarf that the author designed (free knitting pattern)!
So, are you comforted or creeped out by the idea of a Grim Reaper as a high school kid with a sympathetic heart and a yen for junk food?
Book info: Croak / Gina Damico. Graphia HMH, 2012. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]
My Recommendation: Sent to Uncle Mort’s remote farm to work off her wild violence, Lex learns that it’s part of her lineage – as a Grim Reaper. Now she's learning the family business of helping souls to their afterlife – some high school summer job!
First time ever away from her twin sister, first time this far out into the countryside, first time ever to breach the space-time continuum of the Ether. The whole town of Croak exists to assist souls out of this earthly plane as they die, released from their dead bodies by a Killer, then escorted to the Afterlife by a Culler.
Mort’s technical know-how has enabled Grim teams to stay in touch with Croak’s death-detection apparatus as they zoom through the Ether releasing souls. Jellyfish arrays that sense deaths in yoctoseconds of time, deadly spiders spinning vessels to transport souls, the dead presidents and poets who welcome the confused newly-dead souls to the Afterlife and beyond…Lex’s head is spinning during her first week in Croak!
Several other Juniors are training this summer, including Driggs who lives down the hall at Uncle Mort’s. But none of them experience the excruciating pain that jolts Lex every time she Kills to release a soul. Lex and Driggs encounter many different causes of death as they work their regular shifts, but one has them baffled – a man who died of no cause at all, whose eyes turned totally white, a mystery for Mort and crew to puzzle over.
When the no-cause deaths increase, the Juniors murmur of a long-ago Grim who found a loophole in the Terms of Execution that bind their powers, one who decided to cause deaths instead of just releasing souls, a Grim who killed Grims.
Is there another Grotton loose in the world? Why can’t Croak’s computers determine the cause of death for those white-eyed corpses? Why is Lex the only Junior with two parents, with any parents? How long can she keep the secrets of Croak from her twin sister back home?
This Grim Reaper wears a black hoodie and carries an obsidian-bladed scythe – travel through the Ether with Lex as she tries to solve the mystery and stop the killer who’s targeting the Grims of Croak. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.