Uncanny by David Macinnis Gill (review)
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Reviewed by
Gill, David Macinnis Uncanny. Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2017 [544p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-229016-8 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-229018-2 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12

Willow Jane and her younger sister, Devon, have been plagued with bad dreams since the murder of their father, but Willow’s sassy friends Siobhan and Kelly are determined to make her sixteenth birthday a happy one. Little do they know that Willow is descended from the witches of nearby Salem and she’s coming into her legacy as an interdimensional being with supernatural powers; the family heirlooms she has hocked to pay the rent link her to a deeply malevolent presence, who keeps the thumbs of her victims as trophies and is bent on claiming Willow’s powers for herself. Fortunately, Harken, an enslaved familiar with his own scores to settle, arrives to help her fight their common enemy; the battle is bloody and the losses close to home before Willow can lay her family’s demons to rest. As he did with Tejano culture in Soul Enchilada (BCCB 5/09), Gill captures a strong sense of place [End Page 116] through a combination of contemporary dialogue and deftly reimagined regional mythology; here Boston’s hockey-playing Southies serve up quippy, innuendo-laden slang that is counterpoised against the latent horror embedded in quotations and titles from Puritan books and sermons that introduce each section. That latent horror is made gorily manifest as the plot unfolds, cleverly tracing a line from the Old Norse norns to New World witch hunts to contemporary supernatural action romances with their kick-ass heroines. However, while Harken is distractingly sexy, Willow’s focus wavers only long enough to keep readers guessing as to his fate and intentions; fans of sisters-over-misters, horror-spattered plots that move as quickly as Siobhan and Willow’s hockey games will enjoy this comeuppance of sinners in the hands of an angry avenger.

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