272p. Great Plains. 2014. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781927855096.
Gr 10 Up—Seventeen-year-old Maggie "Deadhead" Johnson has a special gift. Her father's the town undertaker and she helps the dead transition to the afterlife. While Dad prepares the bodies for burial, Maggie helps the ghosts move from this world to the next. Serge Popov is the school's resident bully and his unwitting victim is Maggie. For years now, Maggie has suffered the torment of Serge, which culminates in a physical altercation one evening after water polo practice. Later that evening, Maggie finds the bully dead of an apparent suicide. Unfortunately, Serge then becomes bonded to Maggie. The two begin down the path to transition, which is fraught with danger and continued bullying, but eventually move into understanding and acceptance. Serge's terrible bullying is never excused nor is Maggie's suffering minimized, but with careful communication, the two begin to uncover the reasons behind the taunts and hurt. Deen's novel also works as a mystery thriller with lots of supernatural elements in the background. The pacing is steady, the work includes a surprise whodunit, and the ending sets up a second book. Maggie's gift is never really explained or explored in depth, but readers' willing to suspend disbelief will gloss right over that omission.
VERDICT A decent read with engaging characters and fast-paced plotting.

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