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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for Out of Salem
Book cover for Out of Salem

Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Young People's Literature

Genderqueer fourteen-year-old Z Chilworth has to adjust quickly to their new status as a zombie after waking from death from a car crash that killed their parents and sisters. Always a talented witch, Z now can barely perform magic and is rapidly decaying. Faced with rejection from their remaining family members and old friends, Z moves in with Mrs. Dunnigan, an elderly witch and befriends Aysel, a loud would-be-goth classmate who is, like Z, a loner. As Z struggles to find a way to repair the broken magical seal holding their body together, Aysel fears that her classmates will discover her status as an unregistered werewolf. When a local psychiatrist is murdered by what seems to be werewolves, the town of Salem, Oregon, becomes even more hostile to "monsters," and Z and Aysel are driven together in an attempt to survive a place where most people wish that neither of them existed.

Rarely has a first-time author created characters of such immediacy and power as Z, Aysel, Tommy (suspected fey), and Elaine (also a werewolf), or a world that parallels our own so clearly and disturbingly as that in Hal Schrieve's Out of Salem.

Book cover for Out of Salem
Book cover for Out of Salem

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“Darkly humored fantasy explores censorship, government surveillance, homelessness, and real-world (not just magical) forms of oppression .... Schrieve depicts diversity among the queer and trans characters, highlighting how economic and racial privilege make the concerns of middle-aged, rich, white trans women different from those of a young, trans woman of color without access to medical care. Tension burns hot until the explosive conclusion, which begs for a sequel. On fire with magic and revolution.”

“Shrieve conjures intricate magic vital to the plot, pushes the book’s leads to grow amid the book’s ratcheting tension, and provides incisive social commentary via monster-tale tropes. Any reader who has felt it necessary to hide their true identity will find strong characters to connect with in this fun, powerful story.”

“Schrieve's queer vision of a monster-infested '90s is rich in metaphor and rife with meaning.”

Out of Salem is the best urban fantasy I've ever read. Hal Schrieve refurbishes old school world-building sensibilities into a note-perfect dysphoria metaphor that feels fresh and classic at the same time. Simultaneously nostalgic and forward looking, this book should set a new standard in the genre. Terrifying, beautiful, exhilarating.”

“Full of werewolves and zombies and witches, really fun and super trans”

Out of Salem is the genderqueer, undead, anarchist Harry Potter replacement we have all been waiting for. Queer teen readers will fall in love with this gang of misfit magical monsters; not so much chosen ones as outcasts, and if you know a queer teen you should definitely buy it for them. However, in its political acuity, its sadness and, ultimately, its hope, Schrieve’s book is much more than just a good YA read. It is also, in the best possible sense, an educational experience.”

“If you like Teen Witch, zombies, and eerie fantasy, Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve will be your new favorite read in no time. After Z Chilworth dies in a car crash, they must learn the ropes of being a zombie. Dealing with school, family drama, and everything in between, this coming-of-age queer novel has just enough spook, scare, and sometimes even sweet moments to make this book hard not to love.

Out of Salem is one of the most entertaining and poignant YA novels I have read. This genderqueer urban fantasy is a propulsive gem.”

“Schrieve’s literary star is rising fast . . . Out of Salem is an inventive story of intersectional identity . . . Set in an alternative United States in 1999, where fairy folk, selkies, werewolves and zombies are commonplace, the novel is a deeper literary accomplishment than your average youth fantasy.”

Hal Schrieve

HAL SCHRIEVE is a children’s librarian in Manhattan and the best part of hir job is facilitating comics and creative writing workshops with young people. Hir first book, Out of Salem, was longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Hal’s comics are featured in We’re Still Here, an all-trans comics anthology, and the zine Very Online. Hal’s comic Vivian’s Ghost was on the shortlist for Comics Beat’s 2023 Cartoonist Studio Prize Award for Best Webcomic. Follow Hal at @howlmarin on Instagram and @hal_schrieve on Twitter.