From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—Sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell lives with her negligent grandmother and foster brother, Chub, in a decrepit corner of Gypsum, MO. She tolerates Gram's drug dealing and their outcast status, biding her time until she can start a new life with Chub. When a classmate almost dies in a gym class accident, Hailey discovers that she possesses a healing power. She uses this gift to revive her dog, Rascal, after a truck crushes him, but he doesn't seem normal after being brought back to life. Then long-lost Aunt Prairie arrives in town, along with two mysterious men who trail Hailey everywhere she goes. Following a violent shoot-out and car chase, Prairie escapes with Hailey and Chub and takes them to Chicago, where they join forces with another Healer and her son. Prairie reveals that the Tarbells are part of an ancient Irish clan of "Banished" people. Healing is one of their gifts, though they are forbidden from resurrecting someone who has already died, which explains the trouble with Rascal. Hailey also learns that her aunt's ex-boyfriend is a nefarious medical researcher who wants to use Hailey's skill to raise a mercenary army of zombies. The action builds to a nail-biting climax at the research laboratory where Hailey tangles, quite gruesomely, with a room full of zombies. The mythology of the Banished is somewhat underdeveloped, but it may be better explained in the inevitable sequel. With plenty of action, family drama, and the promise of romance, this novel is seriously entertaining.—Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
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Hailey has been an outsider her whole life—at school, in town, and even in her home, where her drug-dealing grandmother neglects and mistreats her. But never before has being different meant being in danger for her life. After Hailey starts registering strange feelings and compulsions, a mysterious aunt suddenly appears and explains the magnitude of the “gift” that sets her apart. Hailey is a healer and a descendent of an ancient Irish clan now living in the U.S., and her special abilities are attracting large numbers of nefarious pursuers. Some want to use her powers for ethically questionable gains. Some want to kill her. References to Irish folklore, zombies, and disastrous love affairs will appeal to paranormal fantasy fans. Littlefield, who has previously published for the adult market, reveals the details of Hailey’s gift both to Hailey and to readers in well-paced scenes that add up to an intense thriller of life-and-death proportions. Grades 8-12. --Hollis Rudiger