Once Dead, Twice Shy: Madison Avery, Book 1 Book Poster Image

Once Dead, Twice Shy: Madison Avery, Book 1



Supernatural story without too much violence.

What parents need to know


Some fantasy violence, a car accident in which a girl is killed but comes back to life, reapers take the lives of humans, a water-skiing accident with injury.


Some mentions of kissing.


"Bitch" and "ass" used.


A sneaker brand is mentioned.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is pretty mild for a young adult novel -- a bit of moderate cursing, some mild fantasy violence, and a car accident in which the main character is (sort of) killed. Some parents who have firm religious ideas about the afterlife may find this offensive.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Madison was killed in a car wreck caused by an anti-free-will dark reaper who wanted to prevent something in her future. But \ before she died she grabbed his amulet, which allows her to continue as \ if she is living but draws the wrath of the reaper and his minions who \ want to complete her death and get back the amulet. Protected by a \ Guardian Angel and the light reaper, she struggles to survive and to \ learn to control the amulet. But there's more going on here than any \ of them realize, and Madison may have a role to play in the politics \ of the afterlife.

Is it any good?


Author Kim Harrison has a talent for keeping the action flying along without resorting to the kind of grim and gruesome violence typical of teen urban fantasies. She does this with a light touch, original ideas, a complex plot with an even more complex back story, and nearly nonstop action and suspense. In between readers will find a delightfully snarky Guardian Angel, a mix of high school and afterlife politics, and some interesting ideas about the nature of life, death, and reality.

This is another example of a book betrayed by its cover. The picture shows a heavily made-up platinum blonde girl, with an ornate title on a pink background. Take the paper cover off and you find a pink wing embossed on the hardcover. It practically screams, "This book is just for girls!" But the story itself would be enjoyable for anyone who likes a light and exciting fantasy, with plenty of humor and action. It's a shame that probably only half of its potential audience will ever open it up to see what's inside.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the afterlife. Major religions and many stories, including this one, present ideas about the afterlife. What do you think of this one?

  • Is it anything like others you have heard or read about?

  • Is it anything like the way you think it will be? Is there any way to know?

  • The idea of hierarchies of higher and lower beings is not new -- why is that idea so common?

Book details

Author:Kim Harrison
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:May 26, 2009
Number of pages:240

This review of Once Dead, Twice Shy: Madison Avery, Book 1 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Classic mystery with a touch of magic, dark humor.
  • Wicked is the key word here, in all its senses.
  • Ghost boy tells the story of a book-banning.
  • Human life through the eyes of an awestruck demon.
  • Great idea, weak execution for upper elementary.
  • Darkly funny book is full of Goth-chic style.
  • Gripping, unsentimental look at teen in coma.

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?
Thanks – we appreciate your feedback!