Tom Ryan's Reviews > Velveteen

Velveteen by Daniel Marks
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Apr 03, 12

Read in April, 2012

Set to blast onto the scene in October, VELVETEEN, by Danny Marks, is a rollicking revenge-tale horror-dramedy extravaganza. I was lucky enough to snag an ARC, and I have no doubt that this evil-puppy will be scurrying off the shelves come Halloween season.

Velveteen is out for blood, specifically the blood of her nemesis, the twisted serial killer Bonesaw, who was responsible for her all too early exit from the living world. She’s the sort of ass-kicking female protagonist that YA needs more of – emotionally conflicted but decidedly in control of her own posthumous destiny. When a love interest shows up (and you can be sure that he does, semi-bewildered, smoking hot, and totally in her way) there’s no doubt about who’s calling the shots. Velveteen has work to do, and if dude wants to make out, well, he’d better tag along and hope for a free minute.

Where Marks really shines is in his descriptive prowess. Purgatory, where the majority of the action takes place, is a sprawling sinister magpie’s nest of a place – with interior design by Tim Burton and costumes by Alexander McQueen. Marks manages to take this gothic sprawl and make it feel like home – not an easy task but he succeeds marvelously. He manages a similar feat with Velveteen herself – she’s a serious bad-ass with a bone to pick (literally) and no time to screw around, but she’s also got some serious heart, and when glimpses of it emerge we feel that we’ve earned them and they’re all the sweeter for it.

The book is filled with queasily-rendered and gothically baroque set-pieces that jump off the page. A scene in a medium’s urban hovel involving a gleeful juvenile poltergeist in a Grover costume had me squirming in my seat. Muppet mayhem? Yes please. Toss in a motley crew of misfit sidekicks and a swelling resistance rising up from the back-alleys of Purgatory and the verdict is in – this is one hell of a ride.

Anyone who follows Marks on Twitter or his YouTube channel already knows that he’s a very funny guy who loves literature (high/low what’s the diff?) and the gorier corners of pop-culture geekdom. He skillfully combines this depth of insight with his trademark black humor and vivid imagination to create a world and a heroine unlike anything else in fiction and I for one can’t wait for the follow up. I’ll just be sure to remember my Gravol next time.
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