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Miss Scarlett, In the Kitchen, With the Mushrooms

Erin reviews Scarlett Dedd, a funny book about a familialcidal dead girl trying to kill off all her friends.  No, really, it IS funny.

Miss Scarlett, In the Kitchen, With the Mushrooms

BOOK REPORT for Scarlett Dedd by Cathy Brett

Cover Story: Brown Bag It
BFF Charm: Eh?
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Multi-Format
Bonus Factors: Illustrations, LOL-ness
Relationship Status: A Little More Y Than A

Cover Story: Brown Bag It

It almost feels unfair to say that, because this is a direct illustration from the wonderful illustrations in the book (and they really are clever!).  BUT!  You guys know what our tag line is!  You all know who we are, and you know who you are.  WE ARE ADULTS.  (Mostly.  Mostly adults.  Like, I would say, probably 92% of our bodies is comprised of adult-type things.  Adult water and gas, you know.  Adult iron and organs.  My mitochondria are almost entirely adult.)  We can't be seen with books like these!  TRUE STORY: I was indisposed this weekend (read: in the hospital) and my mom asked what she could bring me from my place so I gave her a list and croaked out "and the top three books from on top of my dresser, whatever they are" because that's where my TBR stack towers (well, my FYA TBR stack.  My other TBR stack is currently serving as modular furniture because HOLY CHIMNEYS, BATMAN, there are too many books to read in life!), and so she brought this book and, well, the next two books I'll be reviewing for FYA, and the doctors took one look at me reading this book in bed and their eyebrows shot up to their hairline and they started speaking to me as if I were still in grade school.  BECAUSE OF THIS BOOK, I THINK.  PROBABLY. 

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that while the illustrations are adorable inside the book, and they probably even appeal to the pre-teens who this book is aimed towards when placed outside the book, they have no place in the lives of adults and our adult mitochondria.

The Deal:

Scarlett Dedd, of the Dedd family, is pretty much your average Goth loner.  Content with just a few friends, she likes working on horror films and dislikes having anything to do with school, particularly lame field trips to WW1 bunkers.  (Oh, Scarlett, you are so short-sided.)  In an effort to get out of the week-long trip, she picks some mushrooms that will cause a little bit of intestinal discomfort and makes a risotto, thinking a bout of well-timed food poisoning will keep her in bed just long enough to wave goodbye to the caravan of classmates and then give her a week long vacation.  But Scarlett should really do a better job checking the big Mushroom Almanac, because instead of picking the slightly poisonous type of mushrooms?  She picks super deadly ones.  Annnd her whole family eats the risotto.  Whoops!

Newly dead, Scarlett and her whole family wander around their house, trying to adapt to ghost life (which involves a LOT of vomiting).  Scarlett's desperately lonely and really misses her friends, so she figures the best thing to do is make a few of her living friends join her . . . forever . .  .and ever . . . and ever . .  .

BFF Charm: Eh?

Man, I just don't know about you, Scar.  I definitely don't think we would have been besties when you were alive, on account of how you remind me of every insufferable RTF major I ever knew back in college (who, granted, are all still my good friends now, but that doesn't mean I didn't put in my dues.  Do you know how many times I had to watch The Maltese Falcon while they prattled on about the lighting?  DO YOU?) and the fact that you keep trying to KILL YOUR FRIENDS makes me a little wary about befriending you.  Something about wanting to stay alive, IDK. 

That said, I cannot deny that you are hilarious and resourceful and I kind of adore you.  So, maybe we can be pen pals?  But like, e-pen pals only, because I don't want you sending me anthrax or something, you freak.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Scarlett had (has?  It didn't abate with death) a crush on her friend, Psycho, and there are a few moments of tingles in the book when she maneuvers her ghostly bod under his arm, but all in all, this is a pretty tame book, romance-wise.  Which I guess makes sense, since Scarlett pukes, like, all the time, and if there are two things that absolutely do not mix, it's sex and puking.  (Please, DO NOT disabuse me of the notion that sex and puke do not mix.  I don't want to hear about some kink that you have where you puke on someone while having sex.  JUST STOP.  It's not a thing!)

Talky Talk: Multi-Formats

This book is told over several formats: straight 3rd person narrative, Scarlett's newly-dead "therapy" blog, a "ghoul" chat room log, transcripts of interviews featuring the friends Scarlett's trying to kill, etc.  The format of the book shifts every couple of pages, which normally would be a technique I would find awesome, but was actually a little tiresome in this case (I suspect because I'm sick).  For instance, there's one page in which the chapter forms a spiral over two pages - I couldn't even attempt to read that for fear of pulling a Scarlett and vomiting myself.  But!  Normally I would adore that sort of thing, so, someday, book!  Someday we'll meet again and I'll take you on!

Bonus Factor: Illustrations

Cathy Brett's illustrations are quick and clever and add a lot to the story.  I particularly loved the tiny details - the coffee stains covering some words (a nod to the coffee stain covering the illustration of Scarlett's poisonous mushroom), the little sketches of Scarlett's friends.

Bonus Factor: LOL-ness

You know how when you're Internet Chatting with someone and you type LOL but you hardly ever mean that you actually LOL?  Because if you actually LOL as much as you say you LOL then probably people at work will come around asking you what the hell is wrong with you?  Well, I ACTUALLY LOL at this book.  More than once.  WHICH REALLY HURT, by the way, cause I was hooked up to all sorts of IVs and stuff.  So I didn't want to LOL, but I did.  I did LOL. 

Casting Call:

Sophie Turner as Scarlett

I need someone pale and lithe.  Sansa will have to bleach her hair but she can do the job.

Relationship Status: A Little More Y Than A

Don't get me wrong, book, I enjoyed our time together.  At times, you were my only beacon in a turkey-less, pie-less hell.  You were funny and you were clever!  But book, I think you'd be enjoyed a little more by those with a bit more Y than A in them.  You're absolutely perfect for the pre-teen set, particularly those with a twinge of Goth in them.  Oh, if only you'd been around when I was a wee lass!  I would have ate you up for brekkie!  For now though, I'll just put you on a few Holiday gift lists for some kids I know.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Random House.  I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!).  Scarlett Dedd is available in stores now.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.