Delia’s dad vanished from her life just after her eighth birthday, leaving behind a love of b-grade horror movies and a plethora of nagging questions. He also left stacks of VHS tapes with the horror films.
With her best friend Josie, Delia shares the horror films on their hit public access show, Midnite Matinee using the alter egos Rayne Ravencroft and Deliah Darkwood.
As they graduate from high school, both girls face questions about their future. Josie wants to pursue a career in television but is juggling options from staying in Jackson to do the show with Delia and an internship with the Food Network while attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Josie’s also got a new romance with Lawson, a burgeoning MMA fighter who distressingly (to Josie) counts pancakes as his favorite food. Delia struggles with feelings that everyone she loves abandons her and with what to do with the information she’s paid a private investigator to track down about her father.
The solution to many of these problems could come at the annual Shudder-Con in Orlando, Florida if the two can find a way to attend.
Discovering that Jeff Zentner had a new (to me) book was an unexpected surprise addition to my ever-growing to-be-read pile. The pleasure was deepened when the audio version of the book was available from my local library so I didn’t have to wait weeks or months to dive into Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee.
As with The Serpent King and Goodbye Days, was a delight. Zentner allows us inside the minds of both Delia and Josie via alternating chapters, allowing us to experience their ups, downs, and share their triumphs and fears. And while both characters are profoundly witty, they don’t come across as being precociously self-aware.
Zentner pulls on the heart-strings and the funny bone in equal measure. From the hilarious meeting with a past his prime horror host named Jack Devine to Delia’s journey to the put-a-lump-in-your-throat moment when Delia travels to meet her estranged father (who’s changed his name), Zentner earns every emotion and high and low for these characters. Even the romance between Josie and Lawson works because it doesn’t succumb to the bad cliches of insta-love. Instead, we watch as Josie goes from unsure if she even wants to be friends with Lawson through a growing attraction to him, even defending him to a couple of fellow spectators as his big MMA fight.
In short, this is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year. I knew I was enjoying the audiobook when I decided to add another half mile to my run just to get to spend another chapter with Josie and Delia. If you’re looking for a book that can restore your faith in the YA genre, look no further than this.