To a sixteen-year-old, not having your own car and having to borrow the family minivan is a plight. Having to confront one of the biggest kids in school over a cheating incident is a plight. But being responsible for one of your teacher’s legs disconnecting from his body in a gory spray of blood and bone because the voodoo doll your semi-psychotic best friend gave you actually works? Yeah… we’re gonna pass “plight” and go directly to full-on freak out of epic proportions.
Such is the situation Tyler Churchill finds himself in when his best friend Adam gives Tyler a voodoo doll of their teacher, Mr. Click, so Tyler can work out his frustration over having been falsely accused of cheating by Click. Not expecting anything to actually happen, but wanting Adam to stop bugging him about it, Tyler jams a pin into Voodoo Click’s left leg only to watch in horror, along with the rest of the class, as Click’s leg meets with the aforementioned gruesome ending.
Already understandably freaked out, Adam goes completely off the deep end when the boys later hear on the news that Click has died while being treated at the hospital. Not from the leg wound, mind you, but from a broken neck. Kinda like how the neck of the voodoo doll broke when Tyler and Adam were fighting over what to do with it. Oops. Despite Tyler’s assurances he has no intention of telling anyone about the doll – who’d believe them anyway? – Adam doesn’t trust him and obtains an insurance policy to ensure Tyler’s silence… a voodoo doll of Tyler, which Adam threatens to use unless Tyler gives him the Click doll.
The two eventually reach a truce and decide to take both dolls back to the place Adam got them so the dolls can be deactivated, or whatever one does to take the voodoo spell off a voodoo doll. A funny thing happens on the way to “And they all lived happily ever after” however. While Tyler, Adam, and Tyler’s girlfriend, Kelley (We needed a non-dumb person involved. Left on our own, Adam and I would just bumble our way right into prison.), are driving to the store their car is jacked, with Voodoo Tyler in the trunk. All that happens in the first 40ish pages of the book, setting the three teens up for the night from Hell – street gangs, a rottweiler, the revenge of Click, cannibals (hey, this does take place in Florida!), less than sympathetic voodoo priestesses, and overbearing parents – as they race to get Voodoo Tyler back before real Tyler meets with a grisly end.
If you’ve ever read a Jeff Strand book you know that the man is without peer when it comes to combining humor and horror. I marvel anew each time at his ability not just to make me laugh and cringe, but to make me actually do both at the same time. Never has disgusting been so entertaining as when brought to life by the mind and pen (ok, he probably uses a word processing program, but “mind and computer” just doesn’t sound as cool) of Strand. And anyone concerned that Strand would overly tone down his trademark style for his first Young Adult novel need not worry; A Bad Day For Voodoo is both gloriously gory and uproariously amusing. (Kudos to the folks at Sourcebooks Fire for not clipping Strand’s wings.)
It’s not all dismemberment and chuckles, however, as Strand does a very nice job of creating three teens whose thought processes and behavior feel very authentic. (Or, you know, as authentic as it can be when dealing with voodoo.) They fight, they make up, they make some good decisions, they make even more bad decisions, they’re sarcastic, they lie to their parents… they act like teenagers. Teenagers for whom it just happens to be A Bad Day For Voodoo.
A Bad Day For Voodoo will be released by Sourcebooks Fire this Friday, June 1st (ISBN: 978-1402266805).
And be sure to read Jeff’s guest post, “How To Become a Young Adult Author in 34 Easy Steps.”