Thirteen year old Molly’s father has just died, which is a lot for a young girl to take in, but her uncle arrives with some surprising information – Molly has a brother.
Molly’s parents split up just after she was born and her mother (who has also passed away) took the older child and left Molly with her father. Her father had never been much of a provider and Molly learned to fend for herself. She has also learned that there is some sort of family business that this older brother she’s just learned about is currently running. Since she needs money to survive she figures she’ll go and demand half of everything – or part ownership of the business.
The brother, Dustin, isn’t too thrilled to be learning about Molly but ultimately takes her in as she shows she can handle the work. The family business …? They run a funeral home and are cemetery caretakers for supernatural creatures and right now there’s a wizard raising the dead and ruining the eternal slumber for those interred in the cemetery.
I am a tremendous fan of Chuck Wendig’s work. I think his YA books are the perfect storm of strong female characters in tough situations and are written with an edge that really pushes YA readers to another level. His books for adults have a real bite to them – which I love. And so I was excited to see a book by Wendig for middle school readers.
The book has all the typical Wendig ingredients – supernatural characters, a tough female protagonist, and a world where monsters and wizards dwell (and die). What could go wrong?
What could go wrong (and what I think does go wrong) is that writing PG does not play to Wendig’s strength. With all the right pieces necessary for a ‘typical’ Wendig book, Wendig, by necessity, pulls his punches and tames down the fervor and venom that he writes so well. He also works (a little too hard) to be clever and funny – an important ingredient for middle school when dealing with dark characters in a cemetery. He can do humor well, but when I think of characters like Miriam Black or Atlanta Burns, light-hearted or fun or funny are not terms that come to mind. But he tries to bring that into play here and for this reader, it doesn’t work.
Any Chuck Wendig book is better than none, and while I hope middle school readers will find this and read it and get hooked on Wendig, I also selfishly hope the author will return to writing for YA and adults with all the angst and energy we’re used to.
Looking for a good book? Dust & Grim by Chuck Wendig is a fun, dark fantasy/supernatural book for young readers. Those already familiar with Wendig’s work may be surprised at the lighthearted tone and, like me, miss what makes his works so delectable.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Dust & Grim
author: Chuck Wendig
publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
hardcover, 384 pages