Posted in Horror, Humor, Teen, Tween Reads

Gina Damico’s Wax: You’ll never look at a candle the same way again.

waxWax, by Gina Daminco, (Aug. 2016, HMH Books for Young Readers), $17.99, ISBN: 9780544633155

Recommended for ages 12+

Welcome to Paraffin, Vermont, home of the Grosholtz Candle Factory. The town stinks. No, really, it does; imagine all those different scents in the air all the time, and what they must smell like when combined? Seventeen year-old Poppy is so tired of Paraffin and their candle tourism, but she and her bestie end up touring the factory one day, for giggles. She ends up discovering some batty old woman talking about living wax, and gives Poppy a candle that will protect her. When gets home, there’s a naked teenage boy in her trunk. A boy who looks suspiciously like a wax figure that she saw in the batty old woman’s workshop. He doesn’t really know much about who or what he is, but he answers to the name, Dud. A fire destroys the workshop, and with it, any chance for Poppy to talk to the woman and discover more, but no worry: she’s going to find out what’s really happening in the town of Paraffin soon enough. People are starting to act a little odd. A little… waxy.

Wax, like Damico’s previous book, Hellhole, combines horror with humor, with laugh-out-loud results. If you’re like me and love horror comedies like Evil Dead: Dead by Dawn and Return of the Living Dead, with a little less gore, you’re going to enjoy Wax. There’s something really horrific going on in the town of Paraffin, but with a sarcastic lead character like Poppy and a sweet, but dense sidekick named Dud, just sit back and enjoy the ride. There’s some true creepiness here; it’s not all snorts and giggles, so horror fans, if you want a break from gore and just want some good storytelling, pick up this book.

I loved Wax because there’s a good story and good characters, and it reminded me a little bit of Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets one of my favorite cult films from the late ’80s. Does anyone remember Waxwork? I have such great memories of being in college, staying up all night, and watching movies like Waxwork and the Puppet Master movies from Full Moon Entertainment. If you haven’t treated yourself to a viewing of Waxwork, I highly encourage it. Here’s the trailer.

But back to the book. Give this to your morbid humor fans who enjoy a little chuckle with their scares. Please booktalk this one with Damico’s Hellhole, because I feel like that book doesn’t get the love it deserves. Quirk Books has a great list of horror comedies that you can display, too, and don’t discount the tried and true work horses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Have teens who love movies? Have a horror fest with the cheesiest of cheese! My teen and I bonded over Evil Dead 2, and my tween understands the power behind the phrase, “Hail to the King, baby”.

Shop Smart, shop S-mart, and consider adding Gina Damico to your horror collection if you’re a fan or have fans in your patronage.


Posted in Fiction, Humor, Teen, Uncategorized

Hellhole shows you why dealing with demons is BAD.

cover46129-mediumHellhole, by Gina Damico (2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), $17.99 ISBN: 9780544307100

Recommended for ages 14+

Max Kilgore is a nice guy. He’s working double and triple shifts at his thankless job so he can help support his chronically ill mother. He’s honest. Squeaky clean, even. Except for that time when he accidentally unearthed a demon named Burg. Who’s now living with him. He’s gross, he makes a mess, he doesn’t like wearing pants, and Max finds himself entangled in a series of bad situations and deals that puts him at Burg’s mercy, because Burg knows exactly how to get to him. It’s up to Max to beat Burg at his own game, but can he? With the help of a schoolmate who may just have a little inside information of her own, he’s got everything to lose.

Hellhole is a heck of a book. I went into it, thinking I’d be getting a light, funny story about a demon who shows up on a kid’s couch, but found myself reading a pretty deep book on morality, evil, where the line falls, and is that line crooked or straight? There’s a lot going on in this story. We’ve got a pretty likable character in Max, a guy we want to root for, and a straight-up despicable jerk in Burg, but it’s not that black and white. You know that old saying, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions”? Keep that in mind as you read this book.

Teens who enjoy a good satire will love this novel. This would be a great book to booktalk in a library or classroom setting, especially with Summer Reading approaching.