Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
This foray into experimental, gothic theatrical storytelling by Amato (Guitar Notes) intriguingly integrates modern sensibilities with archaic authoritarianism. Lacy Brink is a 16-year-old with a penchant for poetry. While on her way to an open mic night, she wakes up dead, having become a ghost resident of the same Baltimore cemetery that houses Edgar Allan Poe. She's also the most interesting thing to happen to the residents of the graveyard in over a century. As she attempts to come to terms with her life-challenged state, Lacy is slowly introduced not only to those with whom she's sharing her afterlife, but also to the 10 rules of etiquette for the cemetery's residents-a code of conduct governing everything from behavior to appearance and occupation ("No screaming, no yelling, no wailing"). Failure to follow the list can get one removed from the community. To prove her worth, Lacy attempts to set up an open mic night-much to the dismay of the leader of the spirits, Mrs. Steele. While the intricate worldbuilding and characterization are richly imagined, the novel's playbook format distracts with frequent tense shifts and asides; clunky execution further muddies the underlying messages about rectifying past transgressions. Ages 13-18. Agent: Nancy Gallt, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 10 Up-When 16-year-old Lacy-now dead-first appears to the eternal inhabitants of Westminster Cemetery, they are quick to inform her of specific rules in place if she wishes to dwell aboveground between midnight and daybreak. Buried within the cemetery is famous poet Edgar Allan Poe, and his wife, Virginia Clemm Poe, among others who perished during that era. Since Lacy is also a burgeoning poet who died on her way to an open mic night, she offers to host something similiar for the deceased residents. The event upsets some but excites others who are bored with the only other late-night entertainment: tea time. Emotions run high as the participants share their spoken-word poetry and spill long-held secrets. Lacy's character is somewhat likable given her unique situation, but her recurrent swearing doesn't quite line up with her personality. The book is written as a two-act screenplay with prose exposition at the beginning of each scene and interspersed throughout. Unfortunately, this format makes the pacing feel stilted and the story hard to follow. Even with the lure of Poe as a featured character, readers won't necessarily feel motivated enough to find out why he is there; there are too many other issues to sort out in the text. VERDICT Purchase only where there are fans of Poe and spoken-word poetry.-Mandy Simon, State Library of Ohio © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Amato (Guitar Notes, 2012) is no stranger to playing with form and genre, and this time she blends gothic elements with a lighthearted play. Sixteen-year-old Lacy wakes up in Westminster Cemetery, where she quickly learns that she is among the dead who rise each night and return to their graves by sunrise. When Mrs. Steele, the cold and ruthless guardian of the cemetery, threatens Lacy with the cemetery's most egregious penalty, Supression, Lacy orchestrates an open mic night for everyone including the Cemetery's most famous resident to air their grievances. The night's revelations culminate in Lacy and her family getting closure from her death. For a protagonist whose life has just ended, Lacy injects energy and life into the cemetery's residents. This doesn't work as an actual stage production since much of the story comes from long and often didactic stage directions and asides, but it's a unique read that fans of Poe, poetry, or stage plays will find something to grab onto.--Caitlin Kling Copyright 2018 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Lacy wakes to find herself an inhabitant of a cemetery populated by ghosts that rise each night (arbitrary rules make the afterlife oppressive). As she struggles to help the dead express themselves in an open mic night, Lacy awakens the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe, forges new relationships, and comes to terms with her own demise. The darkly comedic novel is structured as a play, with varying degrees of success. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
A newcomer arrives at Westminster Cemetery and shakes things up amongst the Dead. Of the 178 cemetery residents, only 10 arise regularly. One is 17-year-old Sam, who died wearing his Civil War uniform over 150 years ago. Ever the tortured artist, Sam longs to be a writer like Edgar Allan Poethe cemetery's most famous resident. When Lacy Brink, 16, arrivesthe first "recently Deceased" person since 1913Sam is immediately smitten. But Sam's straight-laced mother, Mrs. Steele, wants to see vulgar (read: modern) Lacy Suppressed (read: confined to her grave for all eternity). As newly-assigned President of the Entertainment Committee, Lacy dares to host an open mic night among the rule-bound residents. Will she succeed, or will her antics get her Suppressed (and crush poor Sam's heart)? "Originally written for the Deceased," this play in two acts blends prose with stage directions for a hybrid structure. The resulting alchemy capitalizes on the strengths of both media to create a unique, fully-realized world. The secondary characterssome based on real peopleread as caricatures against the more realistic and nuanced Lacy. But this duality also equates to good comedy. Given the stuck-in-time atmosphere, though, some residents' dialogue seems mismatched (give or take a few choice phrases) to the antiquated necropolis. All characters are assumed white.Quoth the Raven, "Encore." (Paranormal script/prose hybrid. 13-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.