How could you convince people of the truth when they had already decided what version of the story they wanted to believe?
When George Masrell’s home is engulfed in fire in the middle of the night, with 80 year old George inside, Zora quickly becomes the town’s prime suspect. Zora is a Novak and in Addamsville Novak’s are well known, but not for anything good.
And when your mom disappears, your dad goes to jail, and the whole town hates you on sight, sometimes you get it in your head to start doing stupid things to ease that anger. Stupid things like hunting firestarters alone.
Unfortunately for Zora, she has a history with fires (but not the way the townspeople think) and recently had an argument with George so people aren’t exactly lining up to defend her. To make matters worse, the cast and crew of the TV series The Dead Men Walking are coming to film in Addamsville, and tagging along are their groupies. While there are ghosts, they’re not the most dangerous things in Addamsville.
I absolutely adored this book! It’s been on my radar for months and now that I’ve finished it I want to dive straight into a reread, which I probably would have if I hadn’t read a library copy that someone with impeccable taste wanted to read once I was done. More on that later.
There was so much I loved about this book and I don’t want to be a gushy mess nor do I want to spoil it for you so I’m going to try to restrain myself. First, I have to mention that cover! If my eyes were capable of speech the colours would have made them say, “Gimmee!” before I even knew what the book was about. Then the illustrations inside were so darn cute! I got a sense of who each character was from the pictures in the beginning and I loved the illustrations at the end of some of the chapters, particularly the axe and the Chevelle.
Speaking of the car, it practically was its own character in this book. It certainly had its own attitude anyway. The 1970 Chevelle was Zora’s mother’s car and she now drives it.
And if we’re talking about attitude, Zora was awesome! She’s tough, she’s rude, she’s smart, she’s angry, she faces her fears, she kicks butt when she needs to. She’s got the entire town either actively hating her or at least suspicious of her, yet she still puts one foot in front of the other. Anyone who continues to try to do the right thing when everyone expects the opposite from them earns my respect. She’s also asexual and I cannot tell you how happy that made me; I’ve found so few asexual characters in books so she got bonus points from me for that.
I loved or loved to hate almost all of the other characters. Sadie, Zora’s sister, and Grim, Sadie’s boyfriend, were the most adorable couple. Bach was intriguing and mysterious and I wanted to see him on every page. History nerd, Artemis, was a pleasant surprise; I initially thought she’d be a boring character but I really had fun getting to know her.
I had the urge to hiss at a couple of characters whenever I encountered them and it was actively hating Zora’s main opponents that spoke more to me about how invested I was in the story than anything else. Well, except for the fact that I chose to forfeit my annual ‘have to watch Halloween on Halloween night’ tradition to finish it.
I loved idea of the “Bell of Shame” at Happy Hal’s Ice Cream Parlor and I cheered Zora on when she used it to call out one character’s slimeball behaviour. I think we could all do with a “Bell of Shame” in our lives that we can ring to announce bad behaviour to those around us.
Some questions remain at the end of the book and I’d love the opportunity to visit this town again. I definitely need to inhale this author’s other books.
So, now we’re up to the later part of the review, which is essentially a whinge, so you’re quite welcome to bypass this bit. I have been so keen to read this book and was eager for someone to take my money so I could highlight to my heart’s content on my Kindle. Unfortunately this is just another in a long list of books my Kindle is hungry for but because it lives outside of the Promised Land, it’s/I’m not allowed to have it yet.
On the upside, thank goodness for libraries! I asked mine to buy a copy for me and, woohoo, they did! I’m still going to buy a copy for my Kindle as soon as the Kindle gods deem my country worthy but at least I don’t have to hold my breath to read it for the first time any longer. Thank you, lovely librarians!
Content warnings include mention of suicide.
Once Upon a Blurb
Zora Novak has been framed.
When someone burns down the home of the school janitor and he dies in the blaze, everyone in Addamsville, Indiana, points a finger at Zora. Never mind that Zora has been on the straight and narrow since her father was thrown in jail. With everyone looking for evidence against her, her only choice is to uncover the identity of the real killer. There’s one big problem – Zora has no leads. No one does. Addamsville has a history of tragedy, and thirty years ago a similar string of fires left several townspeople dead. The arsonist was never caught.
Now, Zora must team up with her cousin Artemis – an annoying self-proclaimed Addamsville historian – to clear her name. But with a popular ghost-hunting television show riling up the townspeople, almost no support from her family and friends, and rumors spinning out of control, things aren’t looking good. Zora will have to read between the lines of Addamsville’s ghost stories before she becomes one herself.