Some secrets should stay buried.
Self-trained necromancer Snow secretly sells her services to raise the dead so that she can someday raise enough money to get out of her dead-end Maine island and away from her dead-head mom and her assortment of criminal friends.
But when she’s out raising Colonial Buck, Silas, the sexy golden boy of her high school tries to save her and is killed by a demon contained to cemeteries and who is collecting souls for his return to the world of the living. Distraught, Snow mourns Silas only to find him reanimated and trying to figure out how he could possibly be . . . dead?
A family curse.
An angry ex-girlfriend.
And Snow’s increasing desire for Silas complicates finding Silas his answers and stopping the demon.
If they can’t stop the demon from killing more people, it won’t be just their hearts that are broken, but the barrier between the living and the dead . . . forever.
If you love YA fantasy, good necromancers, and ill-fated, opposites-attract romance, get ready for an action-packed love story that will make you keep your lights on.
Here’s a quick excerpt
When you bring them back, make sure the salt stays. Else they kill you. They escape and kill you dead. – Margin Notes, Aunt Rhona, I think
It all starts because I have a weapon in my backpack at school, a small knife that eventually gives away who I really am and what it is that I do.
The knife is sharp, sharp enough to slice the skin of the dead. Actually, it can cut through bone, which makes me nervous when it’s around the living. The first thing I do during lunch is check to make sure the knife is still there, tucked in between my books and my ancient laptop that’s missing the y key, which seems appropriate. I mean, there is no why, right? There just is what is. So philosophical.
I’m on edge all day at school, not because I’m worried about tests, but because I’m worried about money and the dead. This is my normal. I am always worried about money and the dead and sometimes about Mom ending up in jail. Mostly it’s money though.
The school days are slow, days of listening, taking tests, pretending to care about the objective correlatives in The Great Gatsby. Like any good college-bound student, I let the information feed me, spit it out again, gathering it all up for good grades, but I’m more than that. I’m a secret and that’s why I have the knife.
I’ve grown up with most of the kids here, and I have friends. I’m not a threat to anyone living despite the knife in my backpack, but the thing is that . . . Well, it’s that none of them really know me, know what I do. I want to keep it that way, which means I wear long sleeves to hide the scars, that I keep the gauntlet and the knife with me at all times; pieces of my life are tucked away from most of my friends and that’s partly to keep them safe. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
We have National Honor Society in our AP English classroom after school. This is usually a quick fifteen-minute meeting run by Silas Lazar and Olivie, one of my best friends.
Olivie hugs me every time she sees me, her long, brown hair swirling around both of us, smelling like the hemp shampoo that her mom makes her use because it doesn’t have sulfites. She engulfs me in a hug as I plop my backpack down by a desk. Olivie believes that people need ten hugs a day to decrease cortisol, a stress hormone. She also thinks I don’t get enough hugs, so it’s up to her to keep me calm. I call her my hug guru. She actually likes the title; that’s how kind she is.
“You don’t seem right today,” she whispers as she lets me go.
I shrug. “What is right, hug guru? What is right?”
“Oh!” Her eyes light up even as she heads back to the front desk. “Miss Philosophical. I like it. Hey, Silas. Ready to start?”
“Ready.” Silas Lazar is a do-gooder guy. Class president. Tennis star. Going out with Lizzie Lyn Briley since freshman year. We’re friends, but not best friends. He’s wearing his tennis clothes, so he must have practice right after this, which is awesome because sometimes he tends to talk too much (no offense to him) and the meetings go on and on.
I sit down in a metal chair next to Nate, my other best friend. He’s on his phone and grunts hi. I grunt back. He doesn’t notice.
Lizzie Lynn shoots me a look that’s . . . Well, it’s pure disdain. I follow her eyes. My sleeve has moved up a bit revealing my skin and the tiny dark necromancy scars. I pull the edge of my hoodie down, yank it over my thumb. She touches Silas’s arm and whispers something in his ear. His brown eyes meet mine.
Outside the window, other students head to their cars, trucks. The wind shifts their hair into points. The sun seeps into everything, bright and glorious.
“Let’s start,” Olivie says brightly—almost too brightly. “So, the food pantry has served seventy-five people already this month, which is three times their normal number and they are running short on . . . ”
As Olivie talks about the needs at the food pantry and the drop-off locations, I zone out, thinking about the case I have tonight, going over the details in my head. It’s not the easiest resurrection. My planning gets interrupted by Lizzie Lyn’s loud mention of my name.
“Snow. Hey. Snow. Have you noticed less supplies, Snow?” She’s standing near Silas and Olivie by the front desk, hands on her hips, looking smug, but I can’t figure out why. She moves forward and back, triumphant about something, rocking in her excitement.
“What?” I ask this. This is a mistake. You don’t engage with the evil living. You look away and hope they forget about you.
“When you go to the food pantry and get food are you noticing that—like—there’s no cereal or that it all sucks?” There’s a smile in her eyes and an edge to her voice.
Even Nate starts paying attention.
“Um . . . I . . . Uh . . . ” I catch myself sputtering. I stop. Sputtering is weakness and I always do it when I lie. “I don’t go to the food pantry.”
She shakes her head. “That’s okay, sweetie. This is a no judgement zone, right?” She announces super loudly as she does some weird half cheerleader/half kindergarten teacher clap, “No judgment for Snow because she has to go to the food pantry, right? No judgment!”
“There’s no shame in being food insecure,” Silas says as he rubs his hands over his black tennis shorts. “It’s just a product of our have and have-not capitalistic society that perpetuates a subservient class reliant upon welfare to get by.” He focuses all his attention on me, just me. I can’t make myself look away and a breath escapes me, small and sad as he continues, “Plus, you’re not even an adult yet, Snow. It wouldn’t be fair to blame you. Not that poverty is about blame or anything to be ashamed from. I said that—I said that already.”
Just like that—I’m vulnerable. Science tell us that it’s the survival of the fittest, but I think it’s really survival of the meanest and Lizzie Lyn senses my weakness, licking her lips, ready for the kill.
I want to die.
No. No, I don’t. I know what death is.
But still, the heat in my face is massive and my heart starts beating too hard, too fast. I don’t go to the food pantry much really because the lady who works at the food pantry hates my mother and won’t let me in, actually. I have to only go on days she’s not there, which is an occasional Tuesday. But I’m not going to tell all of them that. That’s just—it’s just—it’s too much information.
Nate clears his throat but doesn’t manage to say anything. The rest of the dozen people in here can’t seem to say anything either.
“I-I . . . Um . . . ” My sentence dwindles into nonsense.
The wind blows harder outside, whipping up leaves, yanking them off their nice resting places and onto some uncharted course. I am a damn leaf right now.
Olivie stands up straight and rescues me, like always, even if it’s a bit late. “Lizzie Lyn. The food pantry director has expressed a need, which is not anecdotal. If Snow did go to the pantry, she would only be able to talk about her own experience. What we have here is a direct ask for our help. Are you trying to say the director of the food pantry’s testimony is not sufficient to lend our help? Are you calling her a liar?”
Lizzie Lynn’s eyes narrow. “No . . . I . . . What? I was just ask—”
“Well, we’re set then,” Silas cuts her off. “We’ll make posters and bring them in tomorrow. Cool, right? We’re all cool.”
Everyone murmurs that we’re ‘cool.’ My uncool self grabs my pack the moment we’re done, and I take off towards the door, not stopping to talk to Olivie or Nate or anyone. I’m only in NHS to try to seem normal, to try to get a better application for college, so that I can get out of here and this town where they’ve been judging me for forever. It’s the only thing I want. It’s why I keep taking jobs like tonight. I want to escape. You need money to escape.
I’m so frazzled that I forget to close my bag and everything tumbles out onto the scuffed-up linoleum floor right in front of the teacher’s desk, Lizzie Lynn, Silas, and Olivie. Crouching down, I try to collect everything as fast as humanly possible and in one second, Silas is there, squatting with me, helping me scoop notebooks and pen and pencil and text books and wallet back into the bag.
My hand grabs the knife handle. I smash it into my bag.
He meets my eyes and something happens, some sort of weird spark and a feeling in my chest that I’m not supposed to be feeling, that I’m especially not supposed to be feeling about Silas, boy toy of Lizzie Lynn.
I mumble thanks and rush out the door, not even hugging Olivie goodbye.
I’m halfway down the school hall before Silas catches up to me.