cover image Out of Salem

Out of Salem

Hal Schrieve. Triangle Square, $19.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-60980-901-0

Debut author Schrieve stuns with this tale set in a 1997 Salem, Ore., where the authorities control magic and the monsters are emphatically not the LGBTQ zombie and werewolf protagonists. Z, 14, had just begun to acknowledge their genderqueer identity when their entire family is killed in a car accident. Now a zombie without a custodian, Z faces slow degeneration and—until a widowed lesbian bookstore owner offers guardianship—the prospect of incineration. Z’s bullied classmate, Turkish Muslim Aysel Tahir, hasn’t come out as gay and lives secretly as an unregistered werewolf. Anti-monster sentiments across Salem reaches a fever pitch as a mysterious murder is pinned on werewolves; both students, fearing for their safety, must rely on trusted teacher and sorcerer Mr. Weber, a group of conflicted young adult werewolves, and fellow student Tommy, who has secrets of his own. Schrieve conjures intricate magic vital to the plot, pushes the book’s leads to grow amid the book’s ratcheting tension, and provides incisive social commentary via monster-tale tropes. Any reader who has felt it necessary to hide their true identity will find strong characters to connect with in this fun, powerful story. Ages 12–up. [em](Mar.) [/em]