cover image Saint Death

Saint Death

Marcus Sedgwick. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-62672-549-2

Sedgwick (Blood Red Snow White) transports readers to the border city of Juarez in this grim study of the repercussions of U.S. policies and the market for narcotics on Mexico and its citizens. Arturo cobbles together a life in Anapra, “a little less than a shanty town,” where he is visited by childhood friend Faustino, who has gotten mixed up with the deadly local gangs and is in desperate need of money. Arturo reluctantly agrees to put his gambling talents to the test in order to help his old friend, but it’s a dangerous game, and it doesn’t end well. Sedgwick interweaves the cruel realities of day-to-day existence in a desert landscape plagued by gang warfare—where people vanish without notice and brutalized corpses appear just as suddenly—with interspersed passages that address NAFTA and other relevant social context, as well as musings that revolve around Santa Muerte, “a folk saint, a rebel angel, a powerful divinity excommunicated from the Orthodox,” to whom Arturo devotes himself. The novel’s many tragedies feel all but inexorable, and Arturo’s story will linger with readers. Ages 14–up. (Apr.)