Wendig’s (The Book of Accidents) middle grade debut mingles age-appropriate horror with hard-won wisdom gleaned through the eyes of 13-year-old orphan Molly Grim. Molly’s always been pretty much on her own, but after her father’s death, she teams up with her paternal lawyer uncle to claim half of her mother’s Pennsylvania mortuary and home. But her 18-year-old brother, Dustin Ashe, currently runs the business—and has been heretofore unaware of Milly’s existence. When Molly moves into the family home, the white siblings prove as different as chalk and cheese, with outspoken, outgoing, devil-may-care cosplayer Molly bringing a breath of fresh chaos to Dustin’s staid undertaker lifestyle. Slowly—and much to the frustration of Dustin’s business partner, Vivacia Sims, who is Black—the siblings begin to bond, and Molly starts learning the secrets of the practice, an otherworldly resting place for “nonstandard citizens.” Packed with pop-culture references and creepy beings, the novel is written from Molly’s sarcastic-beyond-her-years viewpoint and subtly threaded with life lessons that together create an engaging narrative. Inky chapter-heading illustrations by Eckwall (Almost a Full Moon) heighten the atmosphere. Ages 8–12. Agent: Stacia Decker, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Oct.)
Praise for Dust & Grim:Amazon's Best Books of October 2021 "A clever, heartwarming tale of funerary rites, ghosts, and the undying power of family."—Holly Black, Newbery Honor-winning author of Doll Bones and The Cruel Prince
"Wildly inventive, totally hilarious, and unexpectedly moving."—Lev Grossman, bestselling author of The Silver Arrow and The Magicians
"A one-of-a-kind delight—mysterious, exciting, inventive, sometimes scary and always funny, Dust & Grim reads like a rollicking ghosts and monsters story, which it is. But just as important, it’s a compelling and tender story about family. Sibling duo Molly and Dustin will find their way into readers’ hearts as surely as they find their way into each other’s."—Trenton Lee Stewart, bestselling author of The Mysterious Benedict Society
"Sucks you in with a wise-cracking zaniness that soon spirals into a delightful rampaging chaos of swarming vampires, thorny wolves, walking trees, and eldritch horrors. And yet even as the dangers for Molly and Dustin increase and the wise-cracks keep flying, the importance of family both lost and found grounds their story with a profound sense of heart."—Paolo Bacigalupi, bestselling author of The Windup Girl, Ship Breaker, and Zombie Baseball Beatdown
"Spookily charming, bewitchingly creepy, full of hope, heart, and horror, Dust & Grim is the sort of book you gobble up in one sweet and salty bite."—Delilah S. Dawson, author of Star Wars: PHASMA and Mine
"Every line of Dust & Grim is packed with a laugh, a sharp observation, or something radically cool, and sometimes all three at once. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Wendig is a welcome new voice in middle-grade fiction, and we are lucky to have him."—Greg van Eekhout, author of Weird Kid, COG, and Voyage of the Dogs
"Siblings Molly and Dustin Grim are the most unlikely of heroes, and for that reason they are among the greatest. The fact that they must save the world from within a secret monster mortuary is only the first of many surprises that bestselling tale-spinner Chuck Wendig has created for this full-of-heart debut about trust, friendship, and the importance of having the perfect costume for every occasion. A fantastic, spooky adventure!"—Fran Wilde, Nebula Award winning author of Updraft and Riverland
"Playing to strengths demonstrated in his many comics and tales for older audiences, not only is Wendig a dab hand at concocting extremely creepy critters, but here he also pulls together a secondary cast of quarrelsome but supportive allies for the beleaguered teens."—Kirkus Reviews
"Monstrously fun.... A sure pick for those enamored by Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (2008), and Tahereh Mafi’s Whichwood (2017)."—Booklist
"Packed with pop-culture references and creepy beings, the novel is written from Molly’s sarcastic-beyond-her-years viewpoint and subtly threaded with life lessons that together create an engaging narrative."—Publishers Weekly
Gr 5–8—The supernatural realm meets a cosplayer teen in this middle grade novel. Thirteen-year-old Molly Grim, lover of all things cosplay and pop culture, is being reunited with Dustin, the estranged older brother she didn't know about after they both become orphaned. Her deadbeat dad never mentioned him or her mother, but Molly will soon discover the family estate and business is that of mortuary services for monsters, including a cemetery. Though neither sibling knew of the other's existence, the pair will have to band together as well as join other supernatural beings to defeat a powerful magic devourer who is threatening not only their business but their lives. The story is fast paced and combines the reality of a teen with fantasy worlds, but at times it seems that the author tried to accomplish too much in one book. There's more than one weak spot in the plot, but those can be overlooked if the reader is invested in the very interesting and long battle scenes. A blend of horror, spooky, funny, pop culture, cosplay, and sibling rivalry make this a suitable, if ambitious, read. VERDICT Good for collections where supernatural and adventurous fantasy circulate well.—Carol Youssif, Taipei American Sch., Taiwan
Chills and thrills ensue when long-separated siblings find themselves custodians of a very special funeral home and cemetery.
Returning to the old mansion deep in the Pennsylvania woods from which her fun-loving if ne’er-do-well dad had spirited her years before, newly orphaned 13-year-old Molly Grim is bummed by the cold reception she gets from her likewise parentless, tightly wound 18-year-old brother, Dustin Ashe, but stoked to discover that she’s inherited a half interest in Mothstead, a final resting place for monsters—or “nonstandard citizens,” to use the less pejorative term. Sparks fly at first, but in battling their uncle Gordo, who turns out to be even more demonic than his everyday persona as a slovenly accident attorney would suggest, the two ultimately discover that they’re good for one another. Playing to strengths demonstrated in his many comics and tales for older audiences, not only is Wendig a dab hand at concocting extremely creepy critters, but here he also pulls together a secondary cast of quarrelsome but supportive allies for the beleaguered teens, featuring a (generally) low-key vampire, a mercurial fox spirit (“Cat software loaded onto dog hardware,” as one observer puts it), and other slyly tweaked supernatural grown-ups. Most of the cast presents White; one supporting character is Black, and one is cued as Latinx.
Nothing like shared brushes with horrible, agonizing death to draw seemingly incompatible characters together, right? (Fantasy. 9-13)