Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory. But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady. Poppy hightails it home, only to be shocked when one of the figures—a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to know what he is—jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car. She tries to return him to the candle factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop—and the old woman is nowhere to be seen.
With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy resolves to find out who was behind the fire. But in the course of her investigation, she discovers that things in Paraffin aren’t always as they seem, that the Grosholtz Candle Factory isn’t as pure as its reputation—and that some of the townspeople she’s known her entire life may not be as human as they once were. In fact, they’re starting to look a little . . . waxy. Can Poppy and Dud extinguish the evil that’s taking hold of their town before it’s too late?
"Damico writes a hybrid comedy-horror romp that can keep readers turning pages. The dry humor keeps the suspense from becoming truly terrifying, but the mix remains entertaining, especially when Poppy discovers some major secrets about who the factory owners really are. An imaginative twist on an Invasion of the Body Snatchers theme, with comedy." -- Kirkus Reviews
"The story line begins slowly but moves quickly once the protagonist unearths a nefarious plan for the town. Moving from victim to hero, Poppy steps up to save her community." -- School Library Journal
"A deliriously off-the-wall tale of small-town horror...Poppy’s bone-dry sense of humor provides laughs throughout this creepy tale of body-snatchers (“Dud wasn’t capable of understanding the concept of nipples, much less love”), but the real strength of the story lies in Damico’s wholehearted commitment to her bizarre plot and its outlandish twists." -- Publishers Weekly
"The snappy humor and wry commentary keep things from ever becoming too scary, but there’s plenty of implied horror..." -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"With witty characters, a campy premise, and a creepy setting, this exciting, entertaining horror-mystery will appeal to readers who like their comedy on the dark side." -- Booklist
"This book is a smart satire on consumer culture, shades of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in a Grosholtz Candle Edition. The characters and relationships are quite compelling and realistic, despite that fact that some of them are literally made of wax (with the numbers growing each day). Dud, regardless of his lack of intellectual depth and the fact that he will melt if left in a hot car, is an enormously likeable character that instantly gains the reader’s sympathy. This book is highly recommended for readers of darkly humorous fiction by authors such as Libba Bray and A. S. King, and will have a ready-made audience in fans of Damico’s previous work such as the Croak trilogy." -- VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)