Review: When She Was Me by Marlee Bush

When She Was MeWhen She Was Me by Marlee Bush
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

When She Was Me is an enticing, and compulsively-readable Psychological Thriller centered around twin sisters.

Cassie and Lenora are permanent residents at a campground in rural Tennessee, Cabin Two to be exact. For the most part, their day-to-day life is peaceful, and they can almost…almost…forget the events of their troubled past.

After the death of the long-time campground owner, a new woman, Sarah, takes ownership and charge. Cassie and Lenora are initially concerned that Sarah will want to change things, thus disrupting their quiet life.

Much to their surprise, she actually seems pretty cool, implementing only minor changes, and Cassie, in particular, ends up interacting with Sarah more. Their life does end up disrupted though, after a teen girl, who’d checked into the cabin next door with her family, goes missing.

The girl, and the unsettling circumstances under which she disappeared, brings back a lot of memories for the mysterious sisters. Both Cassie and Lenora suspects that the other may know more about the events surrounding the disappearance then they’re letting on.

The narrative cycles between the two sisters, filtering in a past perspective as well and with a past that eerily mirrors the present, and everyone’s motivations a little unclear, this story is rife with unreliable narrators.

Both sisters try to figure out what happened to the missing girl, but it feels like a helpless race against the clock, as well as their own personal demons.

When She Was Me is a very promising debut from Marlee Bush. Even though the writing style wasn’t great for me, I still found the story to be incredibly compelling; I couldn’t stop. The characters were well done and I appreciated the way Bush delivered the twists!

When I mention writing style, it’s no shade against the author, it’s just preference. It was more obscure, more stream of consciousness narrative than I tend to prefer.

Nevertheless, the content and the character work kept me flying through. The atmospheric setting was fantastic as well. I loved the isolating feel, not just of the campground itself, but also of the sisters’ way of life.

They had essentially cut themselves off from the outside world and as the intensity increased, you could really truly feel their solitude.

The characters were all so interesting. I had a ton of theories over the course of the story about what was really going on; some panned out, others didn’t. I always appreciate it when an author can keep me on my toes.

Ultimately, I didn’t see the final resolution coming by a mile. It was clever and unexpected, leaving me with a big, sinister grin on my face. I had fun and definitely recommend the audiobook as the format for taking in this story. The narration fit it so well.

Thank you to the publisher, Dreamscape Media, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m really looking forward to reading more from Marlee Bush!

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Review: Murder by Candlelight by Faith Martin

Murder by CandlelightMurder by Candlelight by Faith Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Murder by Candlelight is a Historical Cozy Mystery set in the village of Maybury-in-the-Marsh, in the Cotswolds, in 1924.

Arbie Swift is an author, who has found new found success after the publication of his book, The Gentleman’s Guide to Ghost-Hunting. He’s the kind of famous now, where since he’s an expert in all things ghost,has individuals seeking him out, asking for assistance with their own hauntings.

For example, he gets asked to the Old Forge, where the lady of the house, Amy Phelps, believes she is being haunted by a spectre. Arbie should know what to do, right?

Hesitant at first, both with his new-found fame, and with the idea that he can actually help Amy with her problem, Arbie finally agrees to go stay at the Old Forge. After all, it could provide good content for his next book.

Unfortunately, while Arbie is there, Amy is murdered. Now Arbie finds himself in the unlikely position of detective, along with his dear friend, Val.

As the two dig into Amy’s life and family, they discover all sorts of potential suspects and motives. It’s a race against the clock as they try to discover the identity of the killer, supernatural or not, before anyone else falls victim…

I have been in such a mood for Cozy Mysteries lately. I’m not sure what it is, the changing of the seasons, or the amount of stress that I have been under at work and in my life, but either way, I am eating them up.

I picked this one up on a whim and devoured it in a day. I loved the quaint setting and Arbie as a main character. I think this story set-up a perfect jumping off point for a potentially long-running series.

As with many other Mystery series, I feel like this is the kind of story where you would just get more and more attached to the characters as the installments add up. It also had a distinct Christie vibe, which really worked for me.

I loved that Arbie was an author of a ghost-hunting book, and whether or not he truly believes in all that, is something you’ll have to discover for yourself upon reading. However, whether he does or not, it certainly sets him up to meet a lot of interesting people.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Arbie and Val, which definitely deserves some more attention. I’m not sure if there are plans for this to be a series, or not, but I certainly hope so. I would be genuinely excited to continue on.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Cozy Mysteries, particularly if you enjoy Historical Cozy Mysteries, Mysteries set in a small town/village, or even if you are just a fan of Agatha Christie’s work.

I feel like Martin did a great job plotting this story, and keeping the Reader engaged, while also creating likable, believable characters.

Thank you to the publisher, HQ Digital, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly hope this isn’t the last I see of Arbie and Val!!

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Review: She Left by Stacie Grey

She LeftShe Left by Stacie Grey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been twenty-years since the Memorial Day Massacre that claimed the lives of five of Amy’s friends. It happened at a small house party they’d been enjoying together.

After Amy was made to feel like she didn’t belong though, she left. Little did she know, that was the luckiest choice she could’ve ever made. Within an hour, all of those left at the house were be dead.

In the present, Amy, along with ten other people connected to that night have been invited to a cliffside lodge by a journalist preparing to do a piece on the murders.

After arriving at the home, and being introduced to one another, events quickly take a dark turn. With inclement weather closing in, isolating them even more from the outside world, it becomes clear that this weekend isn’t what any of them expected it to be.

As bodies start dropping, Amy and the others must fight to figure out who orchestrated this event and stop them before they complete their goal; keeping the secrets they’ve been hiding for twenty-years.

Y’all, I really enjoyed this. I went into She Left with zero expectations. I hadn’t heard anyone talking about it and I was unfamiliar with this author’s other works. I was attracted to it purely for the cover and synopsis.

The synopsis was giving me a classic mystery/horror set-up, where people get invited to an event, like a dinner party or weekend retreat, only to arrive and realize it’s not what they thought. It’s very And Then There Were None, amongst others.

Grey succeeded in her delivery of that set-up. I loved how this started off, meeting all the characters and learning how they were all connected to the Memorial Day Massacre.

They’re not all as directly connected as Amy was, so it was interesting to figure out all of that. We do get glimpses into all the various character perspectives, but Amy is definitely our main focus, and as an FBI Agent, Amy really had the most to offer as far as figuring the whole thing out.

Grey also succeeded in really building out her atmosphere. I loved the setting of this. She didn’t just tell us it was remote, it felt remote. The inclement weather, and potentially hazardous mudslides, added an extra element of danger that only aided in the feeling of anxiety and desperation.

This is extremely fast-paced, as well as engaging and easy to follow. I listened to the audiobook and loved that as a format choice. I absolutely flew through it.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t say there’s anything particularly ground-breaking about this story, but I didn’t need there to be. It was still highly-entertaining and that’s exactly what I was looking for.

Overall, the plot is gripping and fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still delivers a well-plotted, intense mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.

Thank you to the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review. I’m pumped to read more from this author!

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Review: Indian Burial Ground by Nick Medina

Indian Burial GroundIndian Burial Ground by Nick Medina
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

After reading Nick Medina’s story, Quantam, in the Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology, Never Whistle at Night, I knew I needed to pick up more of his work.

It was one of my favorites of that collection. I loved his storytelling style and couldn’t wait to be immersed in another one of his creative tales.

In this story, we follow two perspectives: Noemi and Louie. Noemi provides us with a Contemporary Mystery. While Louie, Noemi’s Uncle, delivers us a beautifully-executed Coming of Age Horror element.

In present day, Noemi’s boyfriend, Roddy, dies suddenly and tragically. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding his death, but the authorities categorize it as a suicide. That doesn’t track for Noemi though, who feels like something more sinister may be at play upon their tribal lands.

Just prior to receiving this tragic news, Noemi’s Uncle Louie shows up on her doorstep, in town for an upcoming powwow. After more than a decade away, it’s a bit of an awkward reunion, but soon enough Uncle and Niece are bonding just like old times.

When Louie hears the news of Roddy’s mysterious death, it brings to mind for him some very dark memories, all of which occurred in the Summer when he was 16-years old.

We alter back and forth between Noemi, taking us through the current events, and Louie recounting what happened on the reservation, all those years ago.

Medina wastes no time jumping into the intrigue of this story. The very start is fascinating, as we get a glimpse into the events surrounding Roddy’s death.

I was immediately impressed with the writing. IMO, Medina just has a natural storyteller’s voice. The way he delivered this story, specifically the sections from Louie’s perspective, felt like Louie was speaking his story directly to me.

You forget that you are reading a book. It feels that fluid, and comes across as an actual person would tell the story of their life, versus an author trying to impress you with all the big words they know…

This is exactly the type of writing that I like to read!

It was fascinating to go back and forth between the two perspectives. I couldn’t see right away how Louie’s past was going to help Noemi understand her present, and I loved how Medina ultimately wove the two together.

The Coming of Age aspect was the highlight for me, but I think as a genre blend, this worked together so well.

The Horror imagery itself was very well-crafted. There were some truly unsettling moments. Things that gave me downright chills. It was never difficult picturing exactly what was happening to these characters.

I loved the examination of the real life horrors, as well. Particularly in regards to addiction, which really is its own vampire in a way, isn’t it?

Additionally, the family drama and other events occurring on the reservation brought a heavy emotional component to the story. This one definitely moved me and the ending hit me like a punch to the gut.

Ultimately, Louie’s story will live on, rent free in my heart forever, and ever, Amen. This is a special book.

A slow burn mix of Indigenous Horror with a powerful Coming of Age story; what’s not to love about that? The themes explored and rich quality of storytelling are impressive to say the least.

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

This is for sure on my Most Memorable List for 2024!!!

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Review: I Was a Teenage Slasher by Stephen Graham Jones

I Was a Teenage SlasherI Was a Teenage Slasher by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In 1989, Tolly Driver was an average 17-year old boy, just living his life in his small West Texas hometown of Lamesa.

He’s a good kid, who mostly keeps his nose clean, helping his Mom at her hardware store, and spending time with his best friend ((crush)), Amber. All it took was one crazy Summer night to change everything…

This book is presented in a sort of confessional style. It’s Tolly writing about that summer, about the events that occurred, relaying them and also reflecting upon them. He’s addressing Amber, so it feels genuine and personal.

I connected with this one from the very first pages. I love how SGJ chose to present Tolly’s story. It’s much more than a Slasher. It’s a Coming of Age tale from the perspective of a killer. A Slasher with a twist.

Reading this, it feels like a personal story for SGJ. Not the murdery-bits of course, but the sense of place, the experience of being a teenager in West Texas in the 1980s and everything that went with that.

Honestly, it felt so rich with heart, emotion and nostalgia. I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s because SGJ and I came up around the same time, both in small towns and probably with a lot of similar interests, or if it’s just the humanity channeled into his stories, but they hit me differently.

Maybe it’s as simple as our mutual love of this nuanced genre of Horror; Slashers in particular, I don’t know, but there’s something special in his delivery that takes me right back to my youth. I feel it.

I’ve never read anything like this. It’s special. I absolutely loved it. There’s only so much you can say about a book you loved without diving off the deep end into fangirl territory.

Stephen Graham Jones is one of my favorite authors. Out of the 8-books of his that I have read so far, the lowest rating I have ever given is a 4-star, and it was just the one.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I finished this, and I actually think this is my favorite SGJ work EVER!

For those of you crying yourself to sleep every night ((like I was)) because you just finished the last book in The Angel of Indian Lake trilogy, have NO FEAR, this one will fulfill your darkest Slasher desires and then some.

I’m so excited for this to release this Summer so that I can add a hard copy to my shelves. I can’t wait to read it again. Tolly is a character I will never forget.

I would recommend this to any Horror Reader. It’s a perfect Summer Scream story. My heart slowly shattered over the course of this novel, but it simultaneously made me ridiculously happy. I want everyone to feel that.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Saga Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it far exceeded even my lofty expectations.

Stephen Graham Jones is such a gifted storyteller, who truly breaths life into his characters with the power of his words. His stories are edgy, raw, emotional, powerful and nostalgic. I’ll never stop coming back for more.

10-out-of-10 recommend!!

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Review: The Invocations by Krystal Sutherland

The InvocationsThe Invocations by Krystal Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Jude Wolf is the daughter of a billionaire. You’d think she’s a girl that has everything, but worries. Sadly, you’d be wrong. Jude has a serious issue that is literally eating her alive.

Dabbling in the occult at the age of 15, Jude cursed herself and now her soul is slowly turning necrotic. After every remedy she’s tried has failed, she’s been looking for someone to help her purge this blasted curse.

Zara Jones lost her beloved sister, Savannah, to the hands of a vicious serial killer. Savannah was the only person she trusted and now that she’s gone, Zara would do anything to bring her back, including turn to occult methods.

Zara feels if she could bring her back, Savannah could identify her killer and he could be brought to justice.

Two girls on a desperate hunt for someone with the abilities to help them, happen by chance upon one another. Instant attraction and a kinship of need follows.

The girls see a potential ally in Emer Byrne, a witch with a tragic past, who sells spells to women looking to escape desperate situations. Emer has a lot of knowledge and power, two things that Jude and Zara hopelessly seek.

They notice women being murdered at an alarming rate in their city of London and after some thought, it seems they all have one thing in common: connections to Emer.

Now Emer, Zara and Jude must team up and figure out the identity of the serial killer before any of them end up next on his list.

I didn’t have any expectations when I picked up The Invocations. Although I have House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland, and have heard incredible things about it, I haven’t picked it up yet.

I’m so impressed with how this played out. I loved the combination of the intriguing murder mystery mixed with all the vivid occult elements. The character work was fantastic and I truly hope this isn’t the last we see of these characters.

I was hooked into this story very quickly. Initially, we are just learning about Jude and Zara. I loved meeting both of them and Sutherland made their personal stories so believable and compelling.

I was interested to see how their paths were going to intersect and what would keep them together. I think they way Sutherland drew out this process and then their meeting, it was so impactful.

Once Emer comes in, I loved how they all needed to band together to work towards a common purpose. Even though they were very distinct individuals, with different end goals, it made sense for them to combine their efforts to achieve everything they wanted.

I found Sutherland’s writing to be highly readable. The setting was incredibly atmospheric. I loved how ‘our world’ it felt, with a touch of dark magic and stellar witchy vibes.

Additionally, I felt like the occult elements were amazing. The concepts were captivating and well thought out. I also feel like this will be accessible to a broad audience, easily enjoyed by Readers of all ages.

The feminist themes were also well presented and in this case, well received. I’m looking forward to reading more from Sutherland. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who thinks the synopsis sounds interesting. It delivers what is promised.

Thank you to the publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I cannot wait to see what Sutherland creates next!

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Review: Village in the Dark (Cara Kennedy #2) by Iris Yamashita

Village in the Dark (Cara Kennedy, #2)Village in the Dark by Iris Yamashita
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Village in the Dark is the 2nd-book in the Cara Kennedy mystery series. Let it be known right outta the gate that I haven’t read the 1st-book yet.

That’s right, I’m picking them up out of order…

I know some of you may disagree with my pattern for doing this, but with Adult Mystery series, I sort of just pick up the ones that sound like they have the most intriguing mystery elements. Then if I really enjoy the characters and setting, I’ll go back and read the prior books.

I’m happy to report that I would love to go back and read the 1st-book, and any others that happen to come after this. I had fun with the mystery and did become attached to Cara and her intriguing personal story.

In this story, we do follow Cara Kennedy, who is a Detective in Anchorage, Alaska. We learn at the start that Cara is grieving the fairly recent loss of her husband, Aaron, and their young son, Dylan.

The boys went out on a camping trip and never returned. Their bodies were later found at the bottom of a cliff. It was believed an accident, but new evidence points to foul play.

Cara is devastated. She was upset enough believing they accidentally met their demise, but to learn someone else actually took them from her. She needs to find the truth.

We also get the perspectives of two other women related to the crime. It’s unclear for a good portion of the story how everything fits together, but as the pieces started to fall into place, that’s when it really picked up for me.

I loved the setting. There’s something about mysteries set in Alaska that just feel more dangerous and intriguing to me. The harsh landscape, the remote areas, it pushes the tension levels in really pleasing ways.

I definitely enjoyed Cara’s perspective the most out of the three, but I did enjoy how the three came together and I think overall, it was well-executed.

As mentioned above, I would absolutely pick up any more books in this series that are released. I do plan to go back and read the 1st-book, City Under One Roof, soon. I am interested to see if Cara’s husband and son are in that book, and if so, what those relationships were like.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Adult Mystery series following Detective protagonists. Bonus points if you enjoy mysteries set in remote areas such as Alaska. I really enjoyed learning about Cara’s community and the surrounding areas; very interesting.

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

I’m excited to have a new Detective to follow!

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Review: It Watches in the Dark (Eek! #1) by Jeff Strand

It Watches in the Dark (Eek!)It Watches in the Dark by Jeff Strand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

🎃🖤🎃🖤🎃🖤🎃🖤🎃🖤🎃🖤🎃🖤🎃

It Watches in the Dark is a fantastically-tense Spooky Middle Grade story, and the first book in the all-new Eek! series by veteran Horror author, Jeff Strand.

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the cover. How devilishly-divine is that scarecrow!? It’s giving me all the Autumnal vibes that I cherish in my every day life.

Jumping into this one, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I ended up enjoying it so much. The writing is fluid and engaging, with eerie Horror imagery throughout. I loved how quickly it kicked off, and never let up.

In this story, we follow twins, Trisha and Oliver. At the start of our tale they are on a canoe trip with their Dad, which is something they do often. On this particular trip through, they hit a series of unexpected rapids and their Dad is injured, knocked unconscious.

Not knowing exactly what to do, the kids tie up to the first dock they find and go ashore in search of help.

They end up coming across a tiny town in the woods, Escrow, population 999. Everything about the place seems a little odd, but beggars can’t be choosers, right? The twins seriously need to find their Dad help.

They meet a few townspeople, who though strange, seem to be willing enough to help, and they’re adults, they have to know what they’re doing.

Their Dad is retrieved and taken to the local medical center, but from there the kids are kept away from him. Germs and all that. Oliver and Trisha are left to their own devices and the more time they spend in Escrow, the more their senses tell them to beat feet out of there.

Perhaps it’s the enormous creepy scarecrow sitting sentinel in the town square that’s giving them that feeling. It seems to be watching them and the townspeople are obsessed with it, talking about it like it’s a living being.

As dark approaches, the kids are feeling panicked. They want to leave. They do not want to spend the night in Escrow, but they can’t move their Dad on their own.

The townspeople become more threatening and it suddenly feels imperative to escape. Will the kids be able to figure out a way to rescue their Dad and flee Escrow together, or will this be the end of the road for one, or all, of them?

It Watches in the Dark is a super solid Spooky Middle Grade read. I would definitely recommend this to any Reader who enjoys Middle Grade Horror.

It does have a sort of Goosebumps charm to it, but was creepier than that, really. Especially the initial chapters. I appreciate how Strand set-up this spooky town. It was definitely getting under my skin.

The more the kids interacted with the residents of Escrow, the more tense and stressed out I felt. I just wanted them to run away, but they couldn’t after their Dad was taken to the medical center. They didn’t want to abandon him, of course, and they were still wanting to trust these adults so much.

Oliver and Trisha were great too. I liked that they worked together and appreciated each others strengths, instead of just fighting all the time, as siblings tend to do in fiction.

Overall, I found this extremely entertaining. I think Strand did a great job of making this punchy, with plenty of action and spookiness on every page. I already have an early copy of the next book in the series, Nightmare in the Backyard and I’m excited to get to it!

Thank you to the publisher, SOURCEBOOKS Kids, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was such a fun read; very well done!

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Review: Diavola by Jennifer Marie Thorne

DiavolaDiavola by Jennifer Marie Thorne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first thing that attracted my attention to Diavola was this stunningly-disturbing cover. What does it even mean?

I had to know.

Then I read the synopsis, which completely sold me. A Gothic-feeling Travel Horror novel, set in Italy, full of family drama and haunted happenings. Yes, please.

I was lucky enough to receive an audio copy, and definitely recommend that format.

The narration style of Andi Arndt was absolutely perfect for this story, and as a representation of the MC, Anna’s, voice. I was transported into the Pace family vacation via this audio.

We follow Anna as she meets her family in Italy, where they have rented a gorgeous historic villa near the tiny town of Monteperso. As Anna tries to settle in, the atmosphere is tense. Her family is complicated.

Mom is always passively-aggressively nagging at Anna about her life choices. Dad seems distant, except when he would like to remind everyone of who paid for their vacation. Nicole, Anna’s sister, has their entire itinerary mapped out to the second, and god forbid anyone question it.

Nicole’s two daughters are also there, as well as her husband. They seem to be the only ones in the family Anna even remotely gets along with. Thank goodness for them.

Then there’s Anna’s twin brother, Benny, attending with his arrogant, asshat of a boyfriend, Christopher.

Anna and Benny’s relationship is the most difficult to figure out. As twins, their relationship has always been a special one, but it is definitely strained at this point. At times it seems good, at other times, not so much.

Honestly, that’s the best way to describe this vacation: strained. Unfortunately, it’s not just the family though. The villa itself, is strange and seems to be affecting everyone.

There’s a locked tower room, odd noises and an ominous atmosphere that’s downright oppressive. I would certainly need a vacation after this vacation.

I was impressed with how immersive this ended up being. When I was in it, I was really in it.

I went through a whole range of emotions and was astounded by the direction it ultimately went. I wasn’t expecting a lot of what occurred in the later half of the story. It fleshed out so many layers that were there all along that I feel like I missed initially.

I am already looking forward to reading it again. I would love to annotate it and really just spend some more time with it. It’s beautifully executed!

I can’t stress enough how gripping and haunting this is. My mind was left reeling, trying to interpret all of the events that went down. The atmosphere is top notch, but it never overshadowed the characters, or the emotions that were raging between them.

I would recommend this to any Horror fan, particularly if you enjoy Travel Horror, or Horror featuring complicated family dynamics. I feel like I know the Pace family inside and out. I’m practically one of them at this point.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review.

Diavola has been my greatest surprise of 2024 thus far. I cannot wait to read more from Jennifer Marie Thorne!

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Review: Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Where Sleeping Girls LieWhere Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where Sleeping Girls Lie is a 2024-YA Mystery from Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, author of the successful 2021 YA Mystery, Ace of Spades, which I’ve heard incredible things about.

Even though it’s been sitting on my shelves since 2021, I haven’t yet picked it up, so when I received a surprise Audio ARC of this new book, I was beyond excited to finally be checking out Àbíké-Íyímídé’s work.

In this story, we follow Sade Hussein, who has recently been enrolled in Alfred Nobel Academy. ANA is a prestigious boarding school. Sade is in her third year of high school and ends up starting the school year a little late, following the death of her father.

The action kicks off on Sade’s very first day at the school, as she sees it for the first time and meets Administrators, some students and also her roommate, Elizabeth.

I have to say, I was drawn into this extremely quickly. I love a ‘new girl’ trope and this author nailed it. My favorite aspect of that is just learning about the setting and other characters right along with the new girl.

Previously, Sade has been home-schooled, so this type of environment is completely new to her. She’s a little anxious, still grief-ridden from her father’s passing, but all things considered, the transition seems to be going fairly smoothly.

That is until Elizabeth disappears. The school claims Elizabeth left, that she needed a break, but Elizabeth’s long-time best friend, Baz, isn’t buying it. Sade and Baz begin to bond and Sade agrees that Elizabeth’s sudden departure is suspicious, but why the lies?

Rumors are swirling, drama is occurring and Sade finds herself in the center of a lot of it. When another student is found dead, events are really kicked into high gear.

I thought it would take me a long time to read this book, because it’s a pretty good-sized Mystery, coming in at 416-pages. That wasn’t the case at all though. I flew through it.

It’s such a gripping story, with complex characters, intriguing mysteries, as well as great tone and atmosphere throughout. It’s an incredibly well-written story.

I loved and appreciated how Àbíké-Íyímídé took her time creating the setting and putting Sade’s arrival there in good context. Sade is a character you can really sink your teeth into; there are so many layers to her story.

I also found the mysteries both very intriguing. First, Elizabeth’s disappearance, from what you learned about her in the short time that she and Sade got to know one another, it seemed shady as heck. She wouldn’t just leave.

And the death of the other student, in the context of everything else going on, was shocking. There were definite jaw-drop moments throughout this one for me.

This story gave me everything I wanted. There was a sense of foreboding oozing from every page. I was scared, but in a way where I didn’t even know what I was scared of. I never knew what was going to be revealed next.

The entire story was so compelling. If you enjoy stories set at Private Schools, full of Drama, and wealthy character behaving badly, you have to pick this up.

Additionally, if you enjoy nuanced mysteries with dark shadows lurking around ever corner, you have to pick this up. Or if you just want to see if the hype is real, you have to pick this up. In short, pick it up!

Thank you to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This was a delightful surprise and I can’t wait to read more from this author!!

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