Review: Two Sides to Every Murder by Danielle Valentine

Two Sides to Every MurderTwo Sides to Every Murder by Danielle Valentine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Campy and dramatic, Two Sides to Every Murder delivered a fun, twisted, and slightly-OTT Slasher-inspired Summer Teen Scream. We’re talking a secluded forest and archery!

While not perfect, I found it to be highly-entertaining. It did its job. When I put on my Teenage Megs hat and thought about it, I knew: I would have loved this as a teen.

As an Adult, who’s still a fan of the Teen Scream, I appreciate everything this author brought to the page.

This story revolves around two main characters, Reagan and Olivia, who end up both returning to the defunct summer camp, Camp Lost Lake, that shaped both of their lives after a series of brutal murders occurred at the camp.

Olivia was actually born on the night of the murders at the camp. Crazy, right? But it’s true. Her mother was on the grounds, an employee of the camp, and whether it was the stress or just nature’s way, she went into labor and gave birth as the heinous crimes were occurring.

Due to that, the crimes and the camp are never far from Olivia’s mind. Now the camp is going to be reopened, and Olivia heads there as a volunteer to help clean things up and get the place ready for its new iteration.

In the midst of all this, Olivia has just been delivered some shocking news. She’s found out, thanks to some genetic testing, that her Dad isn’t really her biological father. She’s hoping once she gets to the camp, she can search for answers about who her bio-dad actually is.

Then we have Reagan, who has been on the run with her Mom all her life. Her Mom was suspected to be the Lost Lake Killer, but Reagan knows that isn’t true.

Nevertheless, they have to live under the radar and Reagan has never truly felt settled. Determined to clear her Mom’s name, Reagan decides to return to Camp Lost Lake, along with her best friend, Jack, to search for evidence that could help determine who the real killer is.

We also get some sections from the past that take us through the events of the night of the original murders at Camp Lost Lake. Eventually, as you would expected, everything comes together, quite nicely IMO.

From the very start this was giving me all the Summer Camp vibes I wanted. I could picture this abandoned campground that they’re trying to bring back to life. Deep in the woods and cut off from prying eyes.

In the beginning, I did find the back and forth between Olivia and Reagan’s perspectives a little confusing. They’re a lot alike and of the same age, so their narrative voice was fairly similar. Once those two characters come into contact with one another though, that problem disappeared.

With Olivia’s parentage questions, and a killer on the loose stalking through this woods, this was very The Parent Trap meets Friday the 13th and I was all about those vibes.

I was surprised, like this did go Slasher. It felt like a Slasher, there were Slasher scenes, I could picture it as a movie. It was so engaging and fun.

I was also laughing, because let’s be honest, it’s campy, in a Campy Horror way, so you have attractive teen characters lusting over each other, even while trying to escape the clutches of a masked killer.

I love how the teens were in this abandoned, secluded location, literally with a killer on the loose and at times, you couldn’t feel any sense of urgency.

Hahahaha — it’s all, who is gonna hook up with who, who is kissing who, whose feelings are getting hurt — like can we play the Match Game later!? After we survive this!?

I know some more mature Readers perhaps would be annoyed by this, but I was all about the character drama, and let’s be honest, when I was 16, if there was a new attractive teen in my orbit, I would’ve be trying to put myself in the best possible light as well. Teens gonna teen.

Silliness aside, we did get a why and it was a solid one. I actually wasn’t really expecting that serious of a why this was all happening. It was a delightful surprise.

It made sense and I really enjoyed how it all played out at the end. It was tense, exciting and even included a eyebrow-raising double twist!!!

I would recommend this to YA Thriller/Horror Readers, particularly if you enjoy Campy, or Slasher vibes.

Thank you to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m looking forward to more from this author.

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