“Most magic is just telling the universe you’re thankful to be here.”
The only thing that sucks more than your best friend getting murdered is no one believing that your best friend was murdered. What’s a witch to do? Well, if that witch is Mila Flores, the answer is to raise your bff from the dead to find the bastard that killed her.
Unfortunately magic is never that simple.
Lily Anderson’s newest book, Undead Girl Gang is an ownvoices book about Mila, a fat, Mexican-American Wiccan, and the recently dead turned undead Riley, June, and Dayton as they race against the clock to solve the girls’ murders before the spell keeping them out of the grave wears off.
Mila falls delightfully into the “unlikeable” character department. She does not have time for anyone’s bullshit and is unapologetic about telling you so. Her best friend is dead, everyone is insisting she died by suicide, half the school is pretending to mourn a girl they hardly spoke to, and Mila is 110% already over it by the first lines of the book. Getting to take a ride inside her head was honestly a bit liberating. Everything I know I’d be thinking in a given situation but would be too focused on politeness to say, Mila spits out without a second thought. And frankly, I think in some cases she’s worth learning from.
That said, she’s not just a rude, closed off bitch, even if others might write her off that way. She is a teenage girl grieving for one of the only people who ever treated her like a person. Mila is fat, she is brown, and she and Riley practiced a religion that most people associate with either quirky 90s television shows or Devil worship. People are cruel, no one more so than teenagers, and her one island of salvation in the stormy sea that is high school was just ripped away from her. As much as Undead Girl Gang is a magical murder mystery, it is also about loss, grief, and learning to move on.
If we’re being honest, the real reason I rushed out to buy Undead Girl Gang a few weeks ago was because I discovered it had ownvoices Wiccan rep, which is something I’ve never found before. As a Feminist Wiccan myself, getting to see my spirituality represented by someone who knows what Wicca actually is was really exciting. I will admit, however, that I would love to have seen more of the mundane, day to day aspects of Wicca. They are mentioned from time to time–a Samhain ritual, Mila’s love of crafting–but in general it definitely gets lost in the darker powers at play. That said, I also recognize it would have been tricky to fit in with so tight a plot.
I am not an authority on the rep for the Mila’s other marginalized IDs, but ownvoices reviewers agree it is also excellent. I encourage you to read Destiny’s review for an ownvoices perspective on the book’s fat rep and Dany’s review for an ownvoices perspective on the Mexican-American rep.
All in all, this is a great, quick summer read filled with magic, fabulous female friendships, and a bit of insight into just how little we sometimes know the people we are certain we have totally figured out.
- Discussions of suicide