Dead Girl, by Mark Boss
Dahlia Grove's head-to-head collision in the middle of a high school soccer match lands her in another world--the Shadow Lands. In this world, the brain tumor lurking beneath the surface of her skull is a flesh and blood monster whose defeat will heal Dahlia.
While Dahlia believes herself to be alone in her struggle, she soon discovers she isn't. The Shadow Lands are inhabited by a community of children just like her who have learned that banding together to fight their cancer monsters makes sense.
But there are enemies beyond their cancer monsters. One in particular--a power hungry witch whose sole desire is to wrest control of the Shadow Lands for herself. In the real world, the witch is nothing more than a frumpy, down-and-out nurse whose idea of thrills is euthanizing patients she doesn't deem worthy to live. But in the Shadow Lands, she is beautiful, and powerful and cruel, her attire a slinky silver number that floats like mercury against her long, lithe limbs.
Drawn into the world of the Shadow Lands by the plucky heroine and her friends, I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat as they battled monsters, as well as their own fears and learned important lessons about the power of friendship.
Like Harry Potter's world, Dahlia's is a world where evil is defined by power-lust, and good by friends banding together in a fearless quest for the healing of not only one another, but the world.
Boss has done his work well. Readers will find the murky post-apocalyptic world of the Shadow Lands completely believable, and will find themselves rooting for the crushing of malevolent evil--epitomized by the cancer monsters--by the relentless few whose courage overtakes their fear.
Milinda Jay Stephenson