cover image Dust & Grim

Dust & Grim

Chuck Wendig, illus. by Jensine Eckwall. Little, Brown, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-70623-0

Wendig’s (The Book of Accidents) middle grade debut mingles age-appropriate horror with hard-won wisdom gleaned through the eyes of 13-year-old orphan Molly Grim. Molly’s always been pretty much on her own, but after her father’s death, she teams up with her paternal lawyer uncle to claim half of her mother’s Pennsylvania mortuary and home. But her 18-year-old brother, Dustin Ashe, currently runs the business—and has been heretofore unaware of Milly’s existence. When Molly moves into the family home, the white siblings prove as different as chalk and cheese, with outspoken, outgoing, devil-may-care cosplayer Molly bringing a breath of fresh chaos to Dustin’s staid undertaker lifestyle. Slowly—and much to the frustration of Dustin’s business partner, Vivacia Sims, who is Black—the siblings begin to bond, and Molly starts learning the secrets of the practice, an otherworldly resting place for “nonstandard citizens.” Packed with pop-culture references and creepy beings, the novel is written from Molly’s sarcastic-beyond-her-years viewpoint and subtly threaded with life lessons that together create an engaging narrative. Inky chapter-heading illustrations by Eckwall (Almost a Full Moon) heighten the atmosphere. Ages 8–12. Agent: Stacia Decker, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Oct.)