Now Entering Addamsville – Francesca Zappia – Greenwillow Books – Published 1 October 2019
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.
I don’t read a lot of paranormal YA and even fewer ghosts stories, but I added this to my reading pile because it is written by Francesca Zappa. And I’m so glad I did. Take-no-prisoners female lead character (armed with an axe, seriously), a story of intrigue, murder, and mystery, and yes, ghosts, but with a complex storyline and plenty of layers of details about the rules for this paranormal version of a small town with plenty of secrets, all contribute to make Now Entering Addamsville an intense and compelling read.
When the school’s janitor is killed as his house burns down, the town of Addamsville blame Zora Novak. With her father in jail for a failed Ponzi scheme, her mother still missing after she disappeared five years ago and the fire incident that left a field burnt and Zora untouched save for two missing fingers, Zora is the easy target. But Zora knows the truth. She is being framed and the person framing her isn’t a person, it’s a firestarter, a demon-like creature who can inhabit people and set fires at will, and Zora, who inherited her ability to see ghosts from her mother, along with her ghost-sensing cousin, is the only one who can stop it.
I seriously love Zappia’s writing style. Even when she is writing about firestarting demons and ghosts, I was instantly hooked. There were a few times that I didn’t quite understand the details of the firestarters and Zora’s role as hunter, but it becomes clear that Zora doesn’t have a lot of intel to work with either. The lack of answers only adds to the mystery of this book.
Zora is a wonderfully impressive character. She has a rep around town as a trouble-maker, no thanks to her father’s crimes. But Zora has a protective streak a mile wide and only does what she does to help people. But always being the suspect, always being treated badly because of who she is (or actually isn’t), gets to her, so she has a bit of an (totally understandable) attitude. She’s also tough, despite the trauma she has endured. I wanted to hug her, cheer for her and give thunderous applause as she does what she has to even when it puts her at risk of what she fears most.
But Zora is not the only awesome character in Now Entering Addamsville. Zora’s prim and proper cousin, Artemis can feel but not see the ghosts and is determined to help Zora. Sadie, Zora’s sister, is both mother and father to Zora and has her own set of troubles. Zora’s workmates range from a popular football player to the timid daughter of the town trouble-maker. Even the adults are awesome – some so awesomely terrible and annoying I’d like to throw them over a certain cliff, while others surprise you. And Bach… hmmm, now there’s a handsome little evil-but-still-good firestarter I hope we see in the next book.
And, yes, this book seriously needs a sequel. There is just so much more to explore, mysteries left unsolved and a cast of magnificent characters who have only just found their rhythm of working together. I thoroughly enjoyed Now Entering Addamsville, and I know readers who enjoy action and mystery along with ghost stories, history and suspense, will love it, too.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Ghosts, family, mysteries, fire, missing persons, grief, reputations, small towns, LGBT+
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Coarse language, f*** (12), sh** (12), pi** (1), as***** (6), bi*** (2), di** (2). References to murder, demon possession, death, ghosts, beheading.
Published: 1 October 2019 by Greenwillow Books.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 368 pages.