4.0 21
by Daniel Marks

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Readers of Carrie Ryan and Richelle Mead will love this dark revenge fantasy.

   Velveteen Monroes is dead. At sixteen, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that's not the problem.
   The problem is she landed in the City of the Dead. And while it's not a fiery inferno, it's certainly no heaven either

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Readers of Carrie Ryan and Richelle Mead will love this dark revenge fantasy.

   Velveteen Monroes is dead. At sixteen, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that's not the problem.
   The problem is she landed in the City of the Dead. And while it's not a fiery inferno, it's certainly no heaven either. It's gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn't leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.
   Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment he deserves. And she's figured out just how to do it. She'll haunt him for the rest of his days.
   It'll be brutal...and awesome.
   But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting could actually crack the foundation of her new world, not to mention jeopardize her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.
   Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules . . . or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

"Dark, demented, and edgy, with just the right amount of humor and romance mixed in—Daniel Marks has written the afterlife like you've never seen it before."-Richelle Mead, New York Times bestselling author of the Vampire Academy series

"Velveteen has it all: a ghost hell-bent on revenge, a wickedly hot dead boy, and an underworld revolution—I couldn't get enough!"-Kimberly Derting, author of the Body Finder series and The Pledge

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Erika Schneider
Velveteen Monroe, the main character of Marks's novel, has passed on from this earth. Yet she currently resides in purgatory, where her job is to help rid the living world of black magic. Although Velveteen has a job in purgatory, her main goal is revenge on the person who murdered her. Unfortunately, the rules of purgatory do not allow her to do this. Will Velveteen rebel and let her desire for revenge destroy purgatory, or will she succumb to the rules of her new life? Readers interested in gothic and morbid themes may want to read this book to see what the main character chooses. However, most readers will turn away from the book due to its violence, morbidity, and crass language. The book begins with some graphic details of a serial killer abducting a girl and torturing her. This alone makes it a poor choice for many young adults. Not only does this book contain elements that will make readers uncomfortable, but also many parts are not believable. Even readers of fantasy will scratch their heads in confusion at some of the magical elements. While a certain subset of teens will enjoy this book, it is not one that should be widely recommended. Reviewer: Erika Schneider
Kirkus Reviews
A tedious tale of teens in purgatory suffers from clumsy prose, erratic worldbuilding, and an overabundance of characters and plotlines. After being kidnapped, tortured and murdered by a serial killer called Bonesaw, Velvet is a bitter, defensive soul. She works on purgatory's Salvage team, retrieving trapped souls from the world of the living, and illegally sneaks back to haunt Bonesaw in her spare time. Meanwhile, a group of Departurists want to start a revolution, and destructive shadowquakes, caused by magic use among the living, grow increasingly common. The prose has a stylized, slick feel characterized by half-baked, stream-of-consciousness humor ("Blind?....Hungover? Either seemed a possible explanation for wearing sunglasses at night, or possibly a nod to crappy eighties songs"). Many themes show up only briefly: Velvet's pre-death love of cinema, for instance, or certain souls' addiction to huffing the gas used for lighting lamps. In general, the worldbuilding leaves a distracting number of questions unanswered: Against what kind of government are the Departurists rebelling, and why is a rule breaker like Velvet immediately certain they're wrong? If the dead can no longer eat or smoke, how can they kiss? A few illuminating details eventually emerge, but not enough to make the slog through purgatory worth it. (Fantasy. 14-18)
Children's Literature - Kasey Giard
Her gruesome murder by a serial killer lands sixteen-year-old victim Velvet in the ashen world of purgatory. But Velvet has far from forgotten her horrible death. Against the rules of her new home, she journeys back to the madman's home to haunt him and to try to stop him from killing again. If she is discovered, she will be forced to spend eternity in purgatory. But that is not Velvet's biggest problem. All purgatory stands on the brink of revolution, and it is up to Velvet and her team to keep purgatory from being destroyed. Velvet's killer who calls himself Bonesaw is as creepy as creeps can get. In his descriptions of the vile man and his deeds, Marks does little to hide that he is used to writing at an adult level of explicit content. Other scenes graphically describe spirits possessing the decaying bodies of the dead. In the story, Velvet is torn between her duties in purgatory and her desire for revenge on her killer, but she shows little concern for the living, including Bonesaw's latest victim. She plans to rescue the girl, but that gets sidelined by her pursuit of a hot boy and her social life. Despite this, the world of purgatory is wildly imaginative, fresh and interesting. Nick, Velvet's love interest, is the perfect foil for her. He is as compassionate as she is apathetic. Though not for the squeamish, Velveteen is a unique and entertaining tale. Reviewer: Kasey Giard
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Goth girl Velveteen Monroe died at the age of 16, tortured and killed by a serial killer nicknamed Bonesaw. Her spirit now exists in Purgatory, trapped along with innumerable other souls who all have unresolved issues that prevent them from moving on. In the City of the Dead, Velveteen has a job to do as part of a Salvage team that searches for and rescues souls trapped in the world of the living. However, neither her job nor her hot teammate Nick can distract her from her obsession with haunting her murderer and preventing him from killing other girls. This is a problem because haunting upsets the natural balance and is strictly forbidden in Purgatory. As massive tremors occur more and more frequently in the City of the Dead, the side effects of Velveteen's attempts at revenge may endanger the whole world. This dark fantasy incorporates some complex world-building in its vision of Purgatory, which is very different from the gentle afterlife depicted in books such as Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (Picador, 2002) or Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere (Farrar, 2005). The otherworld is gray and ashen, and the eventual fate of those who move on and disappear from Purgatory is ambiguous. This book is not for the faint of heart, as the descriptions of Bonesaw's tortures are graphic and gruesome, and there are a number of gross-out scenes involving the Salvage team reanimating rotting corpses. Older teens with a taste for the macabre will appreciate this one.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.46(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

When Velveteen Monroe pictured Bonesaw's house—and she did, more often than could be considered healthy—blood striped the paint a muddy reddish-brown, internal organs floated in jars of formaldehyde, and great big taxidermy crows leered from branches that twisted from the wall like palsied arms.

Velvet always did have a vivid imagination. It was part of her charm.

But she'd never have guessed that the first thing to jump out at her in the murderer's dank living room wouldn't be a human-bone coffee table cluttered with the latest issues of Sociopath Weekly and Insanity Fair, dog-eared and swollen with scribbled Post-its like her mom's Cooking Light magazines, nor the killer himself, wild-eyed and clad in a blood-spattered rubber apron, growling maniacally.

He wasn't there at all.

The first thing Velvet noticed was a dangerously normal Kleenex cozy with the words "Home Sweet Home" cross-stitched into its side. As if there were anyone sweet dwelling in that boxy, bland farmhouse.

Bonesaw had dropped the ball on macabre creativity. It's like he never got the text message. When a serial killer decorates his home, it's his duty to opt for, at the very least, a moderately freaky and off-kilter, if not deranged, design scheme.

Everybody knows that.

It's Psychopath 101.

The couch and chairs were as sandy brown as the paint job and plainly arranged rather than all backward or spotted with gore like you might expect of a properly insane decorator. The carpet was clearance-sale beige and just the slightest bit threadbare in a meandering path that led to the old-fashioned swinging kitchen door. The only thing remotely weird was an alabaster ashtray the size of a hubcap, with a half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich stubbed-out in the middle instead of a cigarette butt.

Velvet's eyes lit on a giant TV—not one of those LCDs, but the other kind, with the big tube in the back—teetering atop a small chest. One of the stand's doors hung open just a crack, and something twinkled from its murky depths like a lonely star. She reached out and swung the door open on its squeaky hinges, half expecting to see a knife collection of the variety sold on home shopping networks.

"Look at all of you." Velvet cocked an eyebrow as she peered inside. "Lined up like toy soldiers."

Bonesaw collected salt and pepper shakers. Lots and lots of them.

Mexican guys in sombreros, turtles with top hats and canes, and even a pair of Oreos with bites taken out of them—though how delicious cookies were related to salt and pepper was beyond Velvet.

"Correction," she mumbled. "Used to collect them."

Velvet snatched a pair of hideous cacti, the pickle color having faded into a pale, sickly lime from age or, maybe, Bonesaw's relentless polishing. She launched them across the room, where one shattered into a hundred pieces and the other dug into the drywall, jutting from it like a diseased tooth. A couple of cockeyed chickens were next to get the fastball treatment, followed by the rest of the animal-shaped dispensers. They exploded against the back of the front door, salting and peppering the carpet with tiny shards of porcelain but no actual salt and pepper.

The cabinet emptied, Velvet clamped her fingers under the edge of the coffee table and heaved it forward onto its top, sending the magazines flapping across the room and the giant ashtray thudding to the floor. The peanut butter and jelly dropped away as the mammoth disk of alabaster rolled off on its side, ridges beating a rhythm across the thin pile of the carpet. It collided with the chest, and the TV rocked precariously before settling back onto its base.

Velvet cocked her head to the side; black waves of hair fell over her shoulder and cast a shadow across her face. She quickly tucked a lock behind her ear and assessed the situation for maximum destruction. A slow grin carved its way across her lips, as jagged as a jack-o'-lantern's.

"That won't do, will it?"

She spun, kicking the chest with her full weight, and watched with glee as the TV toppled to the floor with a bang. The screen exploded satisfyingly, spraying the carpet with tiny splinters of TV glass that twinkled like morning dew. The booming echoed through the small house exquisitely, the sound defiling every normal-as-white-bread corner.

If you overlooked the vandalism, the house was the kind of place where anyone could have lived.

Even the killer of four high school girls from New Brompfel Heights, New Jersey.

That crapload of crazy had all started the summer before Velvet's senior year, when Misha Kohl hadn't shown up at home after getting wasted at a kegger, but instead appeared eight days later in several different ziplock freezer bags down by the river. The town had gone shit-bag crazy over that. Curfews had been instated. Buddy-ups for the kids whose houses didn't warrant bus stops. Cameras pointed at the playgrounds like owls on the hunt for woodland scamperers.

Velvet had been pretty sure Bonesaw wasn't a scamperer.

Those cameras hadn't been about catching the serial killer anyway. They'd been about parents pretending their teenage girls were playing on swing sets rather than holing up in some sweaty basement, dodging boys' grabby hands.

Totally delusional.

Despite an obvious love of thick eyeliner, eighties Goth music, and giving her mother heart palpitations, Velvet hadn't been particularly interested in the Bonesaw case at the time. She would have, if pressed, admitted to a certain fascination with sociopaths, and she had spent more than a few "library enrichment" hours scouring the Encyclopedia of Tragedy and Mayhem, but a few missing girls didn't really thrill her as much as you'd think.

Sure, Ted Bundy was kind of hot if you squinted really hard, but he wasn't nearly as extraordinary-looking as his "survivors" always claimed on those History Channel psycho-killer shows. Velvet's interests didn't have anything to do with romanticizing psychotic personalities, anyway. What intrigued her was the whole disconnectedness-from-emotions "thing" that unites all true sociopaths, like they're part of a Moose lodge or a fantasy football league. She'd been accused of the same behavior on more than one occasion (the disconnectedness, not participating in a ridiculous pretend sports thing). Whether she was guilty of having the symptoms was debatable. Lord knows the counselors at her school were happy to discuss what they termed her "oppositional defiance" at every parent conference ever.

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