Texting the Underworldby Ellen Booraem
Perpetual scaredy-cat Conor O'Neill has the fright of his life when a banshee girl named Ashling shows up in his bedroom. Ashling isas all banshees area harbinger of death, but she's new at this banshee business, and first she insists on going to middle school. As Conor attempts to hide her identity from his teachers, he realizes he's going to have to… See more details below
Perpetual scaredy-cat Conor O'Neill has the fright of his life when a banshee girl named Ashling shows up in his bedroom. Ashling isas all banshees area harbinger of death, but she's new at this banshee business, and first she insists on going to middle school. As Conor attempts to hide her identity from his teachers, he realizes he's going to have to pay a visit to the underworld if he wants to keep his family safe.
"Got your cell?"
"Yeah . . . . Don't see what good it'll do me."
"I'll text you if anything happens that you should know."
"Text me? Javier, we'll be in the afterlife."
"You never know. Maybe they get a signal."
Discover why Kirkus has called Booraem's work "utterly original American fantasy . . . frequently hysterical." This totally fresh take on the afterlife combines the kid next door appeal of Percy Jackson with the snark of Artemis Fowl and the heart of a true middle grade classic.
"Complex characters, a moving story line centered on family and courage, and plenty of exciting moments make this an appealing read for those fans of tales mixing traditional folklore with contemporary life."
"Booraem manages to pack a lot of energy into this very modern story about ancient traditions surrounding death. . .Readers will relish the quirky cast of supporting characters from the underworld. . ."
"This book will be a favorite of young fantasy readers."
"Complex characters, a moving story line centered on family and courage, and plenty of exciting moments make this an appealing read for those fans of tales mixing traditional folklore with contemporary life." — Horn Book
"A story that packs an emotional wallop...affecting, funny, and provocative." — Publishers Weekly
"Booraem manages to pack a lot of energy into this very modern story about ancient traditions surrounding death. . .Readers will relish the quirky cast of supporting characters from the underworld. . ." — Booklist
"This book will be a favorite of young fantasy readers." — Library Media Connection
Gr 6–9—Middle-schooler Conor O'Neill has a tendency to believe his grandfather's stories from Irish mythology and folklore despite the rest of his family's clear disdain for such tall tales. Teased for being afraid of everything, he is forced to face his greatest fears when a banshee shows up in his bedroom one night, looking to escort a family member to the underworld and earn her own mortality. The two become cautious friends as the banshee, named Ashling, decides to follow him to school with both humorous and disastrous consequences. When Conor makes the brave choice to head to the underworld and rescue a family member from death, he starts to respect himself. At times wildly funny, and at times creepily spooky, Texting the Underworld merges a realistic setting with fantasy, seamlessly creating a touching story full of suspense, action, and excitement.—Sharon McKellar, Oakland Public Library, CA
Meet the Author
Ellen Booraem, a native of Massachusetts, now lives in Downeast Maine. She is the author of The Unnameables (an ALA Best Book for Young Adults), Small Persons With Wings, and Texting the Underworld. All of Ellen's books have, among other awards, been picked as Best Books of the Year by Kirkus Reviews. In addition to being a writer, Ellen is also a mentor and a writing coach. She lives with a cat, a dog, and an artist in a house they (meaning the humans) built with their own hands.
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I don’t review Middle Grade as often as I should and I constantly fear that I’m missing out on books as good as these. Texting the Underworld captures a part of the paranormal that typically gets ignored : the Banshee. I could definitely tell that the demographic was aimed at someone younger than me, so it’s not one of those cross-generational novels that appeal to everyone. Still, it’s a book I would recommend for my sister’s fifth grade classroom, or give as a gift to my younger cousins. It’s hard not to relate paranormal books to other paranormal books that are out right now. So, while I can’t compare it to other middle grade novels, I can say that Texting the Underworld, reminded me a lot like The Georgina Kincaid series, except for it’s target audience. What makes it especially great, in my personal opinion, is how I don’t think it will be labeled as a “boy” or “girl” book. The cover doesn’t give much away, but certainly appeals to the generation that has grown up with smart phones. It is easily enjoyable for either gender and I appreciate how the marketing has chosen not to make it go one way or the other. Conor is a strong main character, with realistic faults for his age. More than that, I loved the way Booraem chose to show how time can change a person, to the point that both people can be nearly unrecognizable to each other, without losing the essence of a person. While I feel like that is something adults have learned, it’s harder to express in books for children, who have only been alive for a decade. For me, the female characters stole the show. Ashling and Glennie were both vibrant and outgoing, the latter’s brattiness more amusing than frustrating. While both characters had flaws of their own, they were interested in adventure and learning. They weren’t the main character, but they were just as detailed and personable. I probably won’t be adding Texting the Underworld to my personal library, but I’ve been building up a collection for my eventual kids, and it will be added to that.
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