cover image Dying with Her Cheer Pants On: Stories of the Fighting Pumpkins

Dying with Her Cheer Pants On: Stories of the Fighting Pumpkins

Seanan McGuire. Subterranean, $40 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59606-997-8

Hugo Award winner McGuire (the Wayward Children series) gets at the essence of high school%E2%80%94its pressures, hierarchies, and otherworldly horrors%E2%80%94in this cackle-inducing collection following the misadventures of the demon slaying Fighting Pumpkins cheerleading squad. Each of these 10 playful stories explores and critiques horror tropes and cheerleading conventions while also paying loving tribute to both. The title story effortlessly sets the tone: some or all of the Fighting Pumpkins will likely die in their efforts to protect the world from supernatural dangers. Then, in %E2%80%9CTryouts,%E2%80%9D McGuire introduces the squad, called to replace their fallen predecessors and led by captain Jude Ciobanu, who%E2%80%99s chosen by fate when the squad rule book appears on her pillow. The following stories turn the spotlight on individual members of the ragtag group as they face down threats ranging from undead armies (%E2%80%9CGimme a %E2%80%98Z%E2%80%99!%E2%80%9D) to living embodiments of the seasons (%E2%80%9CTurn the Year Around%E2%80%9D). None of these tales take themselves too seriously even as they dive deeply into the burdens teenagers shoulder in the process of coming of age. This is a triumphant showcase of McGuire%E2%80%99s wit and talent. Agent: Diana Fox, Fox Literary. (Oct.)