Review by Booklist Review
When Ashana meets Poppy, she falls--hard. This is her first big love; she's been toyed with and left behind so many times before that it doesn't really seem real. But then, after narrowly avoiding accidents so many times it borders on funny, Ashana dies. And as the last person to die on New Year's Eve, she becomes a grim reaper, destined to forever take people's souls and lead them to Charon the ferryman. Though she occasionally comforts the dying, Ash always muses about the people she's collecting, who they once were, and if they once were like her and Poppy. But one day, she actually sees Poppy, and Poppy can see her, too--which means that Poppy is going to die soon. While the opening chapter gives clues as to what's going to happen to Ash, the following chapters, labeled "Before," take a little while to really get going. But Byrne has a gift for prose, and Ash and Poppy's budding relationship is evocative of a real first love.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
A teenager's life--and budding romance--is unceremoniously cut short when she dies and becomes a grim reaper in this otherworldly romance by British author Byrne. Despite differing financial circumstances and their experiencing homophobia within their Brighton community, the attraction between Indo- Guyanese British Ash Persaund and white-cued Poppy Morgan, both 16, blooms into an earnest courtship. But their romance is short-lived; when Ash is killed in a hit-and-run on New Year's Eve, she becomes a grim reaper, tasked with ferrying souls into the afterlife. Alongside fellow reapers--kind, white-cued Dev and snarky, brown-skinned Esen--and their mysterious Black leader, Deborah, Ash cares for Brighton teens' departed souls. She also dreams of a seemingly out-of-reach future with Poppy, until a chance encounter leaves Ash fearing that Poppy may join her sooner than she thinks. Though Ash's friendships with her reaper found family feel underdeveloped in a narrative that reveals few surprises, her nuanced and loving relationships with her parents and younger sister, and her sugar-sweet romance with Poppy--including their immediate connection, first date, and early sexual intimacy--are balanced with pensive ruminations on death and loss. Tender, heartbreaking, and hopeful, this love story pulls on the heartstrings. Ages 14--up. (Sept.)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
Not even death can stop the love between two 16-year-old girls in Brighton, England, when one becomes a grim reaper. Ashana Persaud, an Indo-Guyanese British girl, attends Whitehawk, a state school with a bad reputation. White redhead Poppy Morgan goes to posh Roedean. They meet when both are on school trips and hit it off right away, falling in love and planning their future. But when Ash dies on New Year's Eve, she transforms into a grim reaper, working alongside two other teenage grim reapers to lead newly departed souls to Charon and his boat. They must avoid anyone they knew when they were alive, and they can only be seen in their previous, living forms by people who are about to die. Ash desperately wants to see Poppy again, but when she finally does, Poppy recognizes her. Ash's new goal becomes to save Poppy from her impending fate even as the pair relish this second chance. The novel is split into two main sections, "Before" and "After." Both are compelling, although they feel disjointed as readers meet several new characters in the latter half while Ash's friends and family from the first part are sidelined. Still, it's the romance that drives the story, and Ash and Poppy are so full of heart. Their feelings for each other are big and overwhelming, and this is an endearing and realistic representation of first love. A heartfelt and emotional queer romance with a fresh paranormal twist. (Paranormal romance. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.