Author: Gina Damico
Pub. Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: Hardcover, eBookFind it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Goodreads
Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory. But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady. Poppy hightails it home, only to be shocked when one of the figures—a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to know what he is—jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car. She tries to return him to the candle factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop—and the old woman is nowhere to be seen.
With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy resolves to find out who was behind the fire. But in the course of her investigation, she discovers that things in Paraffin aren’t always as they seem, that the Grosholtz Candle Factory isn’t as pure as its reputation—and that some of the townspeople she’s known her entire life may not be as human as they once were. In fact, they’re starting to look a little . . . waxy. Can Poppy and Dud extinguish the evil that's taking hold of their town before it’s too late?
It's been a while since I've read a book by Gina Damico, but I'm happy to say that I immediately remembered why I had loved her Croak series so much. The characters she writes are snarky and fun. The dialogue makes me laugh out loud as I'm reading, even when I'm sitting in a crowded fast food restaurant by myself. The idea behind the story is definitely creepy, and there are definitely those moments that would be great in a horror movie. But the characters themselves make it more than that, make it more like the self-deprecating style of the Scream movie franchise, well the first two, which were the good ones anyway.
I definitely identified with the main character, Poppy. Her love of lists, and when she goes into the office store to get a new notebook? Oh yeah, that's me. I love new notebooks, but there is always something more about them than just liking the cover, even then I am a little picky about which ones I buy. And the reasons don't always make sense to anyone else, but I have them. The loving, funny family that she comes from, I love for once that a YA character can have one of those types of families.
A fun tidbit in the story deals with the famous Madame Tussaud, whose wax creations are well-known and emulated even today. I enjoyed the bit of history added to this aspect of the story, and am intrigued to go do some of my own research just to find out how much of that was true. Really, the story is overall a fun romp in a small town where you have extremely quirky characters, something I'd say this author excels at from my experience with her books so far.
I didn't ever get around to reading her last book, but I know that it is now bumped up on my TBR list as I can't wait to get to know another set of her characters and creative worlds.
Gina Damico is the author of Croak, Scorch, and Rogue, the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy. She has also dabbled as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. A native of Syracuse, New York, she now lives outside Boston with her husband, two cats, and one dog, and while she has never visited hell in person, she has spent countless waking hours at the Albany Regional Bus Terminal, which is pretty darn close. Visit her website at www.ginadami.co.
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