Review: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious, #3)The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Hand on the Wall is the third book in the Truly Devious series. At this point in the story, three people connected to Ellingham Academy have died since our intrepid protagonist, True Crime aficionado, Stevie Bell has arrived.

One, the victim of a potential prank gone wrong, the second, dead by misadventure and the third succumbed to a tragic accident in Burlington. Is that all these deaths are though? Were they accidents and misadventures, or something much more sinister. How about murder?

If you haven’t read the earlier books, you may want to avoid the rest of this review. Although I do try very hard not to reveal anything not included in the Publisher’s synopsis.

At this point, Stevie Bell knows who Truly Devious is. She’s cracked the case. One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of our time, and she, a high school girl in rural Vermont has figured it out. At least she thinks she has.

It’s actually hard for Stevie to concentrate strictly on the decades-old case. Paired with the recent tragic events, it’s becoming muddled. Stevie is perplexed. Her gut tells her these three newer deaths are in some way connected to those of the past, but how?

With a storm of epic proportions bearing down on the private school, most students are quickly evacuated for safety. Stevie is right where she wants to be though. She can’t leave. Not when the answers she seeks could lie within these walls.

I loved the two previous books and this was definitely a solid continuation to the series.

I really enjoyed filling in some of the blanks regarding the historic-Truly Devious case. In this installment, as with the previous two, you do get alternating perspectives of both the past and present-timelines.

The information gained in this book really helped to make sense of some of the questions I’ve had regarding that earlier timeline, but where does it go from here?

This left off in a very intriguing place, so I am definitely excited to move forward with the next book.

Stevie has grown so much as a character since the first installment. She’s gaining confidence and really coming into her own. I am looking forward to watching her grow even further as she continues working on the many mysteries surrounding her.

Another aspect I really enjoyed about this one was the inclement weather. The storm essentially evacuating most of the unnecessary players from the school was a nice set-up for creating a spooky, claustrophobic-feeling ambiance.

I am planning to continue onto the next book very soon, in order to be caught up just in time for the 5th-book in the series, Nine Liars, to be released next month!

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Review: The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

The Killing CodeThe Killing Code by Ellie Marney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Killing Code is a YA-Historical Mystery following Kit Sutherland, a young woman with a big secret.

The year is 1943 and the war is raging in Europe. In America, women have been recruited to aid in the war effort in a number of different ways. Kit is one of these women, hired due to her education to work as a code breaker.

Pictured above: Code Girls working at Arlington Hall, circa 1943.

The women work and live at Arlington Hall in Virginia, a former girls’ college now serving as the site of a secret US Signals Intelligence facility.

When Kit arrives she’s full of trepidation. As noted above, she’s harboring an important secret, the revelation of which could get her into a lot of trouble. In spite of this, Kit feels her job is crucial and she throws herself into it with gusto.

Kit befriends a few of the other girls, most importantly, Dottie, Moya and Violet. Kit is comfortable, she’s happy. She feels like she belongs. She never expected it to be this way.

But then the murders start. Murders of government girls in and around D.C. This puts Kit and her friends on high alert. These killings are way too close to home.

When it appears the authorities aren’t taking the killings seriously, or if they are, they aren’t getting far, Kit and her friends decide to take matters into their own hands.

They can figure this out. They have too, or one of them very well could be next…

After being beyond impressed by None Shall Sleep, I was really excited to get more from Ellie Marney. Even though Historical Fiction isn’t generally my go-to, I knew in Marney’s hands it would be compelling.

Happy to report, I wasn’t wrong. This was so good. I loved the characters and really hope we get another book following Kit and her friends. I feel like this one set up that possibility nicely.

Kit’s character was so well-developed. From the very start, she’s intriguing. She has a solid backstory, one that could set her up for failure, but she was smart and determined. She pushed through when a lot of people would have given up.

I liked and respected that about her character, finding her easy to follow and root for. The other girls in her friend group were super likable as well, all with their own unique personalities and contributions to the group.

The mystery was solid. I did get confused at times, tracking the men they considered suspicious, but maybe that’s because I was so distracted by the dynamics going on amongst the girls.

I’m looking at you, Kit and Moya…

I was definitely satisfied with the resolution though and would love to hear news that this is actually a start to a series. That could be so fun!

I recommend this to Readers who enjoys a strong historic setting mixed with an even stronger dark mystery plot. We’re talking serial killers. Also, if you love girl groups, kicking butt and not taking no for an answer, you could really end up loving this.

Finally, while this is classified as a YA-story, I feel like Readers of all ages could enjoy this one. It didn’t really feel YA, except in the fact that the characters are late-teens, early-20s in age.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it so much and look forward to getting more from Ellie Marney!

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Review: Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus

Nothing More to TellNothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Karen M. McManus is back and her latest novel, Nothing More to Tell is my favorite yet!

I have been so hyped about this book for over a year and apparently, for good reason. I’m not sure if it was my level of excitement that pushed this one over the top for me, but this was pretty much a perfect YA Mystery for my tastes.

And that Epilogue?! Are you kidding me, McManus!? I want more of this story and these characters so much. Fingers crossed there will be an announcement soon, if there hasn’t been already. It’s possible I missed something. Nevertheless…

This story follows Brynn and Tripp, long-time friends from Sturgis, Massachusetts, who had a falling out and were then separated for four years after Brynn’s family moved to Chicago.

Due to a change in Brynn’s father’s job, they’re back in Sturgis, right back in their old house. Brynn is nervous about going back to Saint Ambrose School. She didn’t leave under the best terms, after her ex-best friend, Tripp, embarrassed her in gym class and then socially shunned her with zero impetus or explanation.

More tragic that all that though is the fact that just prior to their move, Brynn’s favorite teacher Mr. Larkin was murdered and found in the woods adjacent to the school. Three student discovered his body, her ex-friend Tripp being one of them.

Now upon their return, Brynn is determined to get to the truth behind Mr. Larkin’s death. She even pitches the case to a popular True Crime podcast, at which she has secured a dream internship.

Back in school, Brynn’s pretty determined. Let the investigation begin. She knows someone is hiding something about Mr. Larkin and it just may be Tripp.

The Reader also gets Tripp’s perspective and there are some scenes set in the before, surrounding the time that Mr. Larkin was killed.

I absolutely adore how McManus unrolled this story. The shifting perspectives, the mini-reveals along the way as Brynn gathers more and more information, it was perfectly paced in my opinion.

I loved Brynn’s investigation. Amateur sleuths are one of my favorite tropes and I found both Brynn’s motivations and her methods believable.

I also thought there were some great red herrings and the way this wrapped up was smart. As mentioned earlier, I am fairly sure there will be another book to follow this one, but since I have heard nothing official in that regard, I will just say that I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Personally, I would love more content with Brynn and Tripp!! There’s more to explore in this town.

As an aside to long-time McManus fans, you’ll find entertaining Easter Eggs, or references to her previous works cleverly placed throughout. Every time I came across one, it would just bring a ridiculous smile to my face.

Also, it made me want to reread everything she has ever written. Frankly, that shows you just how clever this one really is. Well played, McManus. Again. Well played.

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Review: The Counselors by Jessica Goodman

The CounselorsThe Counselors by Jessica Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With numerous YA Thrillers being released every month, three things about The Counselors made it stand out for me:

Jessica Goodman’s name, this cover giving me nostalgic-campy vibes and the line in the synopsis that states, a twisty new thriller about three best friends, one elite summer camp, and the dark secrets that lead to a body in the lake.

I had a bit of a wait before the audiobook became available through my library, but it was well worth it. Particularly since it is narrated by the fabulous, Phoebe Strole.

This narrative follows Goldie and her two best friends, Ava and Imogen. The girls developed a friendship years ago at the prestigious Camp Alpine Lake. They were campers when they first met, but now as young adults, all three stayed on at the camp as counselors.

Goldie is the only one of the three who is local to the area though, so she has been anxiously awaiting summer and with it, Ava and Imo’s return. Truth be told, Goldie wouldn’t even have been able to attend the camp initially if her parents didn’t work there.

Generally, the campers are from very well-off families. Because of this, there has been a bit of tension over the years happening between those involved in the camp and the local community.

Goldie is the odd exception that has experience with the situation from both sides.

She has mixed feelings about it. Also, even though Ava and Imogen are her best friends, she does keep a lot from them. Goldie was involved in an incident that led to her senior year of high school being a virtual hell on earth.

She kept that from them. Now that Ava and Imogen are returning to town, Goldie wonders if she will need to tell them. The thing that happened was big local news. She doesn’t want them to hear about it on one of their many ventures into town.

Stress, upon stress, upon stress.

When a local boy, who played a very big part in Goldie’s worst year ever, ends up dead in the lake at the camp, Goldie’s summer takes a sudden dark turn.

What was he even doing there? Locals aren’t allowed on the grounds of the camp. Had he been looking for her?

As Goldie digs into this unexplained death, she uncovers truths she could have never imagined. Her whole world is suddenly and viciously turned asunder.

The Counselors is a great YA Summer Thriller, with all the nostalgic campy vibes that I was looking for, as well as a solid friendship trio. I really enjoyed my time getting to know Goldie, Ava and Imo.

The camp and its relationship to the surrounding area was also quite engaging. I live in a resort-type community as well, so I definitely could relate to a lot of the dynamics that Goodman was exploring. I thought that provided an interesting context to the overarching story.

The mystery was well-developed and paced. It kept me glued to the story. When I wasn’t reading it, I wished that I was. The ending got wild, but it was so fun.

This is pretty close to a perfect summer read. I’m looking forward to picking up more from this author soon!

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Review: Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow

Bad Things Happen HereBad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Luca Laine Thomas lives on the island of Parris, a playground for the wealthy and a place with a history of unsolved deaths.

There are rumors amongst the locals that the island itself is cursed. After the tragic death of her best friend, Polly, three years before, Luca fully believes in the curse.

When her sister Whitney goes missing after a night out, Luca believes the curse may have struck again and in this case she’s sort of correct.

Whitney is dead. Another mysterious death that the town will no doubt sweep under the rug and forget in no time, but not Luca. She’s going to get to the bottom of these tragedies once and for all.

In the midst of all of this, Luca is navigating normal life things like her feelings for the new girl next door. As soon as Naomi moved into Polly’s old house, Luca was intrigued.

Initially, due to Whitney’s prodding, the two develop a tentative friendship, but after opening up to one another following a few drinks at a party, the friendship quickly escalates.

Luca can hardly believe her luck when this beautiful girl seems to be into her as well.

The two work together to try to solve the mystery surrounding Whitney’s death and of the town in general.

What I wrote above sounds interesting, right? I think so. An island town with a history of unsolved deaths, a possible curse, amateur detectives solving mysteries, teen angst; it all sounds great to me.

Unfortunately, the execution of Bad Things Happen Here failed to deliver for me.

I’m not quite sure what happened but this just was not for me. It wasn’t what I expected and I didn’t enjoy what was served up in replacement of what I was expecting.

I was relieved when it was over and that’s never a good sign.

Initially, I loved Luca. I thought it was going to be great because I felt so connected to her right away, but then the narrative just fizzled out for me.

I became so bored with it that I began to lose my focus. I didn’t get the atmosphere or sense of mystery that I was hoping for at all.

Additionally, I felt the investigation taken on by Luca was weak. It didn’t stand out to me as a prominent point to the story and I would be hard pressed to recall any of the clues, or avenues of investigation, she was following.

I wanted a dark mystery with rich island vibes. Atmosphere is so important to me and for me, this was a complete miss. This could have been anywhere U.S.A. The town was a non-factor in this story.

The tone is morose, moody and for me, a little dry. Yeah, it just wasn’t a good fit for my tastes.

With this being said, I know a lot of Readers are loving this one though, so just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.

If the synopsis sounds intriguing to you, absolutely give it a go. What do you have to lose?!

Thank you to the publisher, Margaret K. McElderry Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

While it wasn’t quite the book for me, I know it is going to be a big hit with many Readers!

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Review: The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson

The AgathasThe Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

A year ago, high school it-girl Alice Ogilve disappeared in the wake of a nasty break-up with her boyfriend, Steve.

At the time it was considered a very suspicious disappearance. The whole town of Castle Cove was put on alert. A massive search began for her as it was feared that Alice may have been a victim of something terrible.

Like one of her idols, Dame Agatha Christie, Alice ultimately returned home, but she wasn’t talking. She never told anyone where she had been, what had happened to her, or really why she had left in the first place.

Now once popular Alice is a social outcast, watching from the sidelines as her ex-best friend, Brooke Donovan, dates her ex-boyfriend Steve. Ugh, what a mess.

After a party, Brooke and Steve are seen arguing and Brooke storms off into the night. None of her friends go after her.

The next day it is reported that Brooke never made it home. She’s disappeared. Has she pulled an Alice Oglive, or is something more sinister at work?

Once again the town of Castle Cove is in an uproar. Another young girl missing. Everyone has opinions. Unfortunately, Brooke doesn’t remain missing for long. She’s been killed.

After being notified, Brooke’s wealthy grandmother swoops in, offering a hefty reward to anyone able to determine what happened to Brooke.

Alice pairs up with her teen tutor, Iris Adams, along with a small group of her misfit friends, to try to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Brooke’s tragic death. Alice isn’t in it for the money, but Iris certainly wouldn’t turn it away.

Steve is taken into custody, the police feel he’s the guy, but Alice knows that isn’t true. She knows Steve couldn’t kill someone. In order to prove his innocence and secure the reward money, they need to find the real killer, thus an investigation begins.

The Agathas is such a solid and fun YA Mystery. I love when teens turn into full-fledged amateur investigators and this fit that bill perfectly.

The friend group that ultimately assembles itself around Alice was so sweet. She went from being the super popular girl, to an outcast, to finally finding a new place.

As far as the mystery portion goes, I thought it was really well done. The investigation was great. The girls were huge fans of mystery and true crime novels and television shows, so they incorporated a lot of what they had learned from those into their investigation.

The vibe of this reminded me a bit of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and I was loving every minute of it. If you enjoyed that one, you should absolutely check this one out.

Also, I loved how this one ended. I am hoping, as determined from the closing paragraphs, that Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson aren’t finished with this set of characters yet.

There are more mysteries to solve in Castle Cove.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I loved this and can’t wait for more from this author duo!

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Review: The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, #2)The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The Hawthorne Legacy is the second installment in the hugely popular Inheritance Games series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

This rags-to-riches inheritance mystery offers Readers a lot of riddles, a lot of intrigue and a lot of romantic drama. It’s like a tiny bit The Princess Diaries meets a lot of Knives Out.

This story follows Avery Grambs, who after the death of her mother, really struggled to get by. She moved in with her half-sister and was working hard just to complete high school. She dreams of a better life.

In an unbelievable turn of luck, Avery received word that eccentric billionaire, Tobias Hawthorne, has just passed, leaving Avery the vast majority of his fortune. The strangest part is, Avery has no idea who Tobias Hawthorne is. She’s never even met him.

The kink is that Tobias had a pretty big family that he has snubbed with his surprise bequeathment to Avery.

Now poor Avery has to live in Hawthorne Manor with the very same grandsons who were all but cut out of the elder Hawthorne’s will. That isn’t awkward at all.

While the first book, The Inheritance Game, gets you up to speed on all that, this second book builds on the mystery of Avery’s windfall, as well as a building of the relationships within her new world.

And keep in mind, this is an entirely new world for Avery. She is now in the realm of the uber-rich; the jet-setting elites who she has never interacted with before. With this comes a new set of challenges, including PR-issues, something Avery never would have thought of before.

If only that were her biggest issue though. Someone out there isn’t happy with Avery’s new found fortune and is willing to try anything to get her out of the picture. Permanently.

There’s also a bit of a love triangle happening. The Hawthorne family is full of handsome and charming young men, such a plus for our Avery.

Two of the boys in particular, Grayson and Jameson, are attracting a lot of her attention and thanks to the power of DNA-testing, it’s not creepy at all.

I had a lot of fun with this continuation. The Hawthorne Legacy may not be perfect, but it’s pretty freaking fun.

I need answers; so excited for the next book. Where’s this going from here!?

I am so intrigued with what the truth is behind this family. I love the continuation of the use of riddles and games, as well as Avery getting the chance to team up with the brothers to solve different aspects of the mystery.

I know a lot of Readers aren’t fans of love triangles, but I think this one is great. It’s not overplayed. It feels natural. There’s no catty fighting, or behind the scenes backstabbing. Avery is genuinely feeling a connection to both boys. Girl, I get it.

I’m so excited for August so I can get my hands on the third book. I need answers!!!

If you haven’t picked up this series yet, and love a fast-paced, fun-filled YA Mystery, you should absolutely start this series now. It’s completely addicting!

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Review: The New Girl by Jesse Q. Sutanto

The New GirlThe New Girl by Jesse Q. Sutanto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Arriving at Draycott Academy, Lia Setiawan is thrust into a world she is completely unfamiliar with.

Draycott is a super prestigious private boarding school on the West Coast, one Lia can only attend due to the full-ride scholarship she has received to run track.

On the first day, Lia’s nerves seem to be getting the best of her. She is like a deer in the headlights amongst all the wealthy, confident Draycott students.

Track practice doesn’t get off to the best start either. The other girls seemed more threatened by Lia’s incredible speed, than they are happy to have a new teammate.

It doesn’t take long before heated words are exchanged and thinly-veiled threats bandied about.

Not all is a loss though. Lia does make a few friends, including a cute boy, Danny, who has a cultural background similar to her own. They share some sweet moments and for a bit, it seems like Draycott won’t be all bad.

Lia is never given the chance to get too comfortable in her new place, however. Through a rumor-style app known as Draycott Dirt, DD, Lia begins to be incessantly bullied by anonymous classmates.

It’s awful and unfortunately, doesn’t stop with online torment. Their hurtful comments and behavior continue into the classroom, with teachers doing nothing to stop it.

The whole school is a complicated, toxic mess, as far as Lia can tell. Even her English Lit teacher is corrupt. Lia suspects he is giving preferential treatment to certain students, while she is close to failing no matter how hard she works.

She needs to pass every class in order to keep her scholarship, but this guy is making it impossible!

The New Girl follows Lia through her tumultuous first days as a Draycott student. I’ll tell ya, there’s one hell of a learning curve to this Academy.

Y’all, this book had me transfixed. It is an absolutely bats#it crazy story, but man, did it keep me engaged!!! I had so much fun trying to figure out what exactly was going on in Draycott.

Sutanto has a great sense of humor, dry and a bit sarcastic, and even when tackling difficult topics that managed to shine through. There’s a lot going on in this narrative, but it never felt overly heavy or bogged down in details. It still felt fast-paced and intriguing.

There is a lot of intense depictions of bullying, so beware if that is something that could be triggering for you. It’s not for me and even I found it hard to swallow at times. It also explores wealth, privilege, classism, racism and addiction.

Even in its craziest moments, I was rooting for Lia the entire time. While I wouldn’t necessarily agree with all of her choices, I can appreciate she is just a teen trying to do her best under really difficult circumstances.

She was quite literally stuck between a rock and hard place. She never gave up and I loved that about her character. A lot of people would have thrown in the towel after being treated the way she was at Draycott, but not Lia. It just made her fight that much harder.

I would definitely recommend this book to people who go all in for over-the-top YA Mysteries. Sutanto’s got a style all her own and I’m definitely buying what she’s selling.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: That Weekend by Kara Thomas

That WeekendThat Weekend by Kara Thomas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the hospital, Claire is scared and confused. What day is it? What happened to her?

The last thing she remembers was the Friday night she spent at her best friend Kat’s family lake house. Kat’s boyfriend, and Claire’s other BFF, Jesse, was there as well. They were skipping prom.

Initially, Claire’s boyfriend was supposed to be there too. The group had planned to go hiking on Saturday. It was going to be a whole thing, but then they broke up.

As you can tell, things are not going well for Claire. Well, they’re about to get worse.

As mentioned above, Claire has no memories of the hiking trip on Saturday, or how she got injured. She was found bloodied on a mountain trail by a lone hiker; he was able to get her to safety.

Unfortunately, no one has heard from Kat and Jesse. They’re missing and the last known person to see them was Claire. The police consider her to be a suspect.

She’s shocked, but what could the explanation be? Why would she have ever left them and headed down the mountain alone? Did they get in a fight?

That Weekend was one of my most anticipated YA Mysteries of 2021. I mean, it’s by the Queen, Kara Thomas. Who wouldn’t be excited?

I finished this over a week ago and I’m still not confident on my feelings about it. I love the premise, I love the setting and the initial set-up of the mystery.

For me though, the mystery itself, what was actually happening, the root of it all, I just wasn’t sold.

Don’t get me wrong, I generally love wild, over-the-top plot twists, but this just was not fun for me. I didn’t buy it. I didn’t like the twists and overall, I was disappointed, as I truly expected to love this.

I also found Claire’s perspective to be very, very bland. As a protagonist, she bored me. Just being honest, she did.

I feel like I would have preferred to be following anyone else; towards the end, you do get some of that, so that was a nice perspective shift.

With this being said, just because this wasn’t quite as great as I was expecting, don’t let that sway you from reading it.

I had incredibly high expectations for this one going in and honestly, I may have set myself up for disappointment.

This is still a good story, well written and fast-paced. I know a lot of Readers will love this one.

As far as Kara Thomas goes, she’s fantastic; super talented. My opinion matters not at all in comparison to all she has achieved. I love her ideas, style and creativity. I will absolutely continue to pick up anything else she writes. Trust!

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Review: The Red Palace by June Hur

The Red PalaceThe Red Palace by June Hur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In 1758, Joseon-era Korea, 18-year old, Hyeon works as a palace nurse, a position she has worked very hard to attain.

As the illegitimate daughter of a powerful man, Hyeon really didn’t have a lot of options. She enjoys her profession, however, and hopes that through it she may one day earn her father’s approval.

Hyeon keeps her head down, does her job and tries to avoid any conflicts that would reflect negatively on her, but when she and a fellow nurse are called to the bedside of the Crown Prince Jangheon late one night, Hyeon is thrust into a wicked web of palace intrigue that she cannot avoid.

That very same night, at the same time she is in the Prince’s chambers, a viscous attack occurs at the Hyeminseo that Hyeon used to attend. The attack leaves four women brutally murdered.

When Hyeon’s beloved mentor, Nurse Jeongsu, gets arrested for the crime, Hyeon knows there’s been a mistake. There is no way her caring teacher, a woman who has dedicated her life to helping others, could possibly be capable of the callous brutality of this massacre.

Hyeon’s desperate to save Jeongsu from the clutches of the police force, known for their brutal interrogations, and she doesn’t have much time. Therefore, Hyeon decides she needs to begin her own secret investigation into the murders.

Along the way she meets Eojin, a young police inspector, who teams up with her to uncover the truth behind the Hyeminseo Massacre, but will anything they find actually make a difference?

In the face of the dark secrets they begin to uncover involving every level of palace politics, Hyeon and Eojin seem so small, young and inconsequential. They’re both willing to take incredible risks in the pursuit of justice though and that should count for something.

The Red Palace grabbed me and never let go. This was such a surprising read for me, a little outside of my comfort zone, but such a delightful way to spend the weekend.

Hur 100% succeeded at sweeping me away to another time and place. I felt transported!

There are so many things to love about this book that I fear I may just begin swooning here. Let’s start with Hyeon. She had such incredible depth of character. I felt like I knew her. I had such empathy for her and her situation.

In spite of her challenging family life though, Hyeon showed such strength and dedication to task, even in the face of terrible danger. It was admirable.

Then there is Eojin, speaking of swooning. Calm, quiet, strong and respectful of Hyeon, he made a great partner for her during the investigation.

Eojin had his own complex backstory and motivation for wanting to get to the bottom of these crimes, which added to the general mystery. I enjoyed his steadfast nature and the evolution of their relationship was so satisfying.

Lastly, let’s talk about the atmosphere. I can’t even describe how great it was for me. The dark, dangerous streets. The secrets of the royal family hidden around every corner.

As I said earlier, I was transported. When I was reading this, I could picture it all playing out in my mind. Granted, I’m no cinematographer, but I think Hur did an incredible job leading me on my imaginative journey into the heart of this story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Feiwel & Friends, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I enjoyed this so much and cannot wait to pick up Hur’s other two novels. Apparently, YA Historical Mysteries are now my thing!

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