Saint Death

Written by Marcus Sedgwick

Crime / Mystery Featured Books for 13+ readers Featured Books for Young Adults Recommended Children's eBooks Thrillers

LoveReading View on Saint Death

Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award

In a Nutshell: Gangs dice with death under the gaze of Mexican folk saint.    A thought-fuelling thriller set in a gang-run neighbourhood near the border of Mexico and El Norte (America). The writing is poetically punchy. Exquisitely formed sentences are fired-off in smarting succession, and the juxtaposition of contemporary totems like Burger King buildings with the likes of folk saint shrines is smartly done. This is a richly layered novel in which important socio-political issues (gangs, poverty, corruption, migration, social divisions and dissonance) are made potently real through Arturo and Faustino’s predicaments. And alongside the enlightening Mexico-specific context, there’s much that is universal: friendship, loyalty, and searching for a sense of purpose. As paternal figure Siggy tells Arturo, “You just have to find out what it is you’re looking for.” Pacey and passionate, this truly exceptional book tells a tale that truly needs to be heard. ~ Joanne Owen

Saint Death Synopsis

A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by Printz Medal winning and Carnegie Medal, Costa Book Award and Guardian Children's Fiction Prize shortlisted novelist, Marcus Sedgwick.

Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez - twenty metres outside town lies a fence, and beyond it, America - the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he's been working for. He's dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he's on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they're as good as dead. Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) - she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.

Saint Death Press Reviews

I really enjoyed Marcus Sedgwick's strange and intriguing tale, told in rhythmical and compelling prose. David Almond

I read it in one glorious gulp [...] this isn't a larky read, although the heavy subject matter could not slow down the pace if it tried. [...] Sedgwick writes like a dream -- Alex O'Connell The Times

Bleak, choppy, switching freely between perspectives and languages, Sedgwick's book pulls no punches, and will leave the reader reeling THE GUARDIAN

A very powerful book [...] I believe it will easily raise awareness and inspire empathy because Arturo's story is so tragic. -- Tilly Lavenas Amnesty International's Country Coordinator for Mexico

Most similar in tone to Revolver, this is an incredibly powerful thriller, tautly written and timely, exploring a world of drug lords and gang warfare, migration and capitalism, and what it means to live in poverty. -- Fiona Noble The Bookseller

It's beautifully-written with a real sense of atmosphere, menace and tension The Bookbag

Saint Death is perhaps the first great anti-capitalist YA novel of the 21st Century. Teen Librarian

Exploring themes of migration, capitalism and social mobility this taut thriller, laced with Mexican folklore, will have you holding your breath until the shocking climax. South Wales Evening Post

A tightly plotted, dark and thrilling tale of crime, poverty and desperation, Saint Death pulls no punches in painting a horribly accurate picture of life for the poorest young people in Mexico, where savage criminality may be the only choice Book Trust

I think this is probably the most important book to be released this decade. -- Mandy Southgate Addicted to Media

...there's more to this book than just a gripping story-line it's an eye-opener regarding the conditions in which thousands of people live alongside the border. Our Book Reviews

Marcus Sedgwick's brilliant YA thriller Saint Death, describes a place in Mexico where rights violations make it impossible to live well with integrity Books for Keeps

I can't fully explain how important it is, how horrifically hopeful and sad it is. Just writing this review and remembering the book has me on the verge of tears. I can only hope you read it. -- Emily May The Book Geek

This is not a comfortable read, and not for the faint-hearted - Sedgwick points a finger at our indifference, and no compromise has been made to the brutal realism - but it is an important read. The School Librarian

In places Saint Death becomes difficult to read [...] but it's an important book and it made me consider issues that, up until this point, were easy for me to turn my back on. [...] In Saint Death, we see Sedgwick at his most raw, his most honest and, unforgettably, his most brutal. Writing from the Tub

This is also a really well-written and well-researched novel that draws you in and never lets you go. Please read it. Star Crossed Book Blog

Sedgwick did the right thing in showing the dark reality faced by Mexicans through their eyes, it made a change from what the media usually presents them as... Incendium Libri

Another gem from a prize-winning author, whose masterful delivery of prose will leave you breathless ... A quick-paced and addictive read for young adult readers and up. I loved this Inis

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781444011258
Publication date: 06/04/2017
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781444000528
Publication date: 06/10/2016
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781444011258
Publication date: 6th April 2017
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 272 pages
Suitable for: 13+ readers, YA readers
Genres: Crime / Mystery, Thrillers
Recommendations: eBooks
Other Categories: All Shortlists and Winners, UKLA 2018

About Marcus Sedgwick

One of the World Book Day 2015 Authors  Marcus was our Guest Editor in July 2010. Click here to see all his selections. Marcus began to write seriously in 1994, and his first book, Floodland, was published by Orion in 2000, and won the Branford-Boase award for best debut children's novel. Witch Hill followed in 2001, and was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. The Kiss of Death was published in paperback in April 2009, and picked up a thread from his highly acclaimed My Swordhand is Singing (winner of the 2007 Booktrust Teenage Book Award). In between came what Marcus calls “my big ...

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