Well, more a 4.5 but I rounded up here.
In Scarlett Dedd, Cathy Brett combines prose and illustrations to tell a humorous yet heart-filled tale of life and everything after.
The story at the heart of Scarlett Dedd is a simple one – a young girl dies and must become accustomed to her new existence – but it’s the characters that really (if you’ll pardon the pun) bring the whole thing to life. From gloomy-quirky Scarlett to her horribly embarrassing family on one side of the great divide between life and death, and the friends Scarlett left behind, each of them are deftly crafted, both with words and illustration. Indeed, Brett makes a difficult thing look simple with the ease she made me sympathetic – even to the point of nodding along at times – with Scarlett even as she started taking actions that I did not exactly approve of.
The illustrations scattered throughout the pages make for a great complement to the written story. Her artistic style is distinct and has a real flair to it, and it was always a delight to see how the next image was going to interact with the text someway – in fact it was another reason to not put the book down, as I wanted to see what illustration was going to come next. And Brett uses these illustrations to wonderful effect, from simple things like the video rental cards of Scarlett and her friends (expired in Scarlett’s case) to gorgeous two-page illustrations of scenes taking place or settings. Combined with Scarlett’s blog entries and IM conversations between her and other ghosts, the blending of all these things with traditional prose helps make Scarlett Dedd stand out even more in a current YA paranormal already so competitive thanks to so many great books.
There was just one thing that kept Scarlett Dedd from having a full five stars. Occasionally the text was formatted in different ways depending on the scene in question, meaning you would have to tilt the book or twist it around. For the most part this was fine, and I enjoyed doing so – save for two pages. While I understand the reasons behind these two pages, having to constantly spin the book around multiple times became headache inducing, and I was forced to skip until the next non-cyclical page, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Overall, I have one thing to say about Scarlett Dead: Hurry and get yourself a copy, ASAP – you never know how much time you have left. But do be careful until then… especially when it comes to mushrooms.