Texting the Underworld. 320p

Dial. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803737044. LC 2012032488.
Gr 6–9—Middle-schooler Conor O'Neill has a tendency to believe his grandfather's stories from Irish mythology and folklore despite the rest of his family's clear disdain for such tall tales. Teased for being afraid of everything, he is forced to face his greatest fears when a banshee shows up in his bedroom one night, looking to escort a family member to the underworld and earn her own mortality. The two become cautious friends as the banshee, named Ashling, decides to follow him to school with both humorous and disastrous consequences. When Conor makes the brave choice to head to the underworld and rescue a family member from death, he starts to respect himself. At times wildly funny, and at times creepily spooky, Texting the Underworld merges a realistic setting with fantasy, seamlessly creating a touching story full of suspense, action, and excitement.—Sharon McKellar, Oakland Public Library, CA
When an attractive young banshee moves into his closet, predicting an upcoming death, anxiety-prone Conor is convinced that she's come for his beloved grandfather. To save Grump, Conor travels to the underworld, where he must face his greatest fears. Complex characters, a moving story line centered on family and courage, and plenty of exciting moments make this an appealing read.
Twelve-year-old Conor O'Neill is a worrier. For him, the world is a "lethal and unpredictable place" filled with spiders that might fall onto him while he sleeps, the possibility of choking if he doesn't chew every bite fifteen times, and other terrifying things. With preoccupied parents and a scoffing younger sister, it is his lively grandfather, Grump, with his encyclopedic knowledge of Irish lore, who understands Conor best. When an attractive young banshee shows up and moves into his closet, explaining that she is there for an upcoming death, Conor's anxiety skyrockets. He starts wearing his bike helmet to school, calls his family every moment he can to check that they're all still alive, and soon becomes convinced that the life about to end is Grump's. Meanwhile, banshee Ashling has become intrigued with modern culture and heads off to Conor's middle school, with amusing results. Learning that there might be a way to save his grandfather, Conor travels with his sister and Grump to the underworld, where he must face the thing he's most afraid of (spiders, of course) and where his cell phone factors into the challenge (hence the book's title). Complex characters, a moving story line centered on family and courage, and plenty of exciting moments make this an appealing read for those fans of tales mixing traditional folklore with contemporary life. monica edinger

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