cover image Death’s Country

Death’s Country

R.M. Romero. Peachtree Teen, $19.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-68263-691-6

Brazilian 16-year-old Andres Santos loves his new life in Miami Beach, where he makes music instead of picking fights, can escape his parents’ arguing now that they’re divorced, and can forget the life-saving bargain he made with Death after a drowning accident. Most exciting, however, is his budding friendship-turned-romance with Renee and Liora, the “mermaid girls” he met on the beach. After Liora is hit by a car and lies comatose in the hospital, Renee hatches a radical plan: she and Andres will go to the Underworld to save their girlfriend. Though he’s uneasy about his previous bargain, Andres agrees, and the duo venture into a vivid purgatory full of ambivalent and malevolent specters and animal spirit guides to face the mysterious Prince in the dark who holds the key to Liora’s freedom. Employing action-oriented and descriptive verse (“Sorrow stole the stars above it/ and the streets are paved with tears”), Romero (A Warning About Swans) pulls loosely from Dante’s Inferno as well as Latinx, Judaic, Greek, and Afro-Caribbean mythologies to craft this surreal queer polyamorous love story. Renee cues as Latinx and Liora reads as white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rena Rossner, Deborah Harris Agency. (May)