cover image Over My Dead Body

Over My Dead Body

Sweeney Boo. HarperAlley, $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-0630-5630-5

Boo’s bewitching debut celebrates found family via a fantastical mystery centering a teenage witch’s troubling disappearance. Noreen, a student at the Younwity Hidden Institute of Witchcraft, was last seen entering the demon-infested Untamed Woods that border the school days before Samhain, when the border between the living and the dead is weakest. When she’s declared missing, white, freckled Abby recruits professor’s daughter Goldie, who is Black; closest friend Enver, who is white; and Asian-cued roommate Violet, in her search for clues about Noreen’s disappearance. But their inquiry leads to consistent dead ends, and classmates continue preparing for the institute’s yearly Samhain celebration as if nothing has changed, tanking group morale. Though they encourage Abby to let the administration handle the case, she refuses to give up, especially when further investigation uncovers ancient and sinister school secrets. Atmospheric lighting renders hazy sunsets and mystical night skies, autumnal color palettes evoke an appropriately witchy aesthetic, and expert character design portrays a racially diverse cast featuring varied body types. Boo capably juggles the mystery’s intrigue with interpersonal drama, such as previously antagonistic relationships revealing hidden romantic yearning, in this eerie mystery that sits well within the magic school canon. Ages 14–up. Agent: Britt Siess, Britt Siess Creative Management. (Aug.)