cover image Wax


Gina Damico. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-544-63315-5

Damico (Hellhole) delivers a deliriously off-the-wall tale of small-town horror, in which 17-year-old Poppy Palladino has to persuade her friends that key members of the community are being replaced by living wax duplicates, all part of a fiendish plot orchestrated by the mysterious owners of the town’s famous candle factory, “a wax-poured juggernaut of industry.” Poppy isn’t sure who to trust when neighbors and authorities alike start acting strangely; matters are further complicated when she gets a wax companion of her own, Dud, who looks like an ordinary teenage guy but literally knows nothing about the real world. Now they have to save Paraffin, Vt., from the invasion of the Hollow Ones before all that’s left of the townspeople are uniquely-scented candles at bargain prices. Poppy’s bone-dry sense of humor provides laughs throughout this creepy tale of body-snatchers (“Dud wasn’t capable of understanding the concept of nipples, much less love”), but the real strength of the story lies in Damico’s wholehearted commitment to her bizarre plot and its outlandish twists. Ages 12–up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (Aug.)