When I first heard of this book, I wasn’t tempted to try it out. It sounded like a cliché mystery. But after reading a review by Mandy@Book Princess Reviews, I was convinced to give this a try, especially after my latest mystery book disappointment.
Summary: Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister. Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them. Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident. But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers. Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.
Story: 5/5: Wow. That was all I could say after reading this. This made me speed read this book and successfully gave me a feeling of having been punched. I tore through those pages like you couldn’t believe. The only other mystery I can think of to make me read like a maniac was the I Hunt Killers series.
This is about Kasey, a girl who has moved in with her father and stepfamily. Unlike most stories, she gets along with her new family really well; the stepmother is very nice, and she has new friends in her stepbrother and half sister. She also manages to make friends with Bailey and Jade. But then they start acting odd towards her. Kasey is confused, so when they invite her to do a séance at a reportedly haunted barn, she leaps at the chance. But after things go wrong, they ditch her to go to a party, where Bailey disappears. As Kasey and Jade try to investigate, Kasey discovers many clues and becomes a target of suspicion.
This story sounded so dull when I first read the summary, but trust me. This is a dark book. It had twists and turns that I might never have the guts to write. I was shocked this was a YA book; this felt more adult than that. This book can become uncomfortable, but in a way, it rings a little too true to real life. This starts out as a mystery but slowly becomes a psychological horror. And I mean psychological. I had guesses throughout the book, but I was still stunned by the ending.
Characters: 4.5/5: The characters were amazing, and always had more than meets the eye. Oh gosh, how will I get through this without spoilers? Well, I’ll try! (For those who have read the book, prepare for red herrings)
Kasey is a great protagonist. She’s complex and interesting, and different than most “unreliable narrators”. You don’t know how much of her unreliability is real and how much is in her head. She’s realistic in that regard, and her character growth is fascinating to read.
You know those stories where the victim proves to not be as good as everyone thinks? Well, that’s Bailey. Even though I guessed she wasn’t the best person fast, I was shocked at some of the twists that were revealed about her.
Jade is hard to describe. She and Bailey are best friends, and have known each other for a while. Unlike Kasey, she expresses her feelings about Bailey’s disappearance, which adds to the town’s suspicions on Kasey.
Kasey’s family was really cool. Lauren is a really sweet little sister. She pulls at your heartstrings a lot. Andrew is a cool brother and friend for Kasey, he’s really nice. And Ashley, her stepmother, is very different than your usual stepmother.
Writing: 4.5/5: The writing was amazing. It evoked such a spooky and eerie atmosphere. I was never sure whether the creepiness was because the setting was scary, or because it was all in the characters’ heads. It’s just brilliant writing with enough plot twists and red herrings to make your head spin. There were also chapters told from Bailey’s diary. The separation of Kasey and Bailey’s voices is clear and impressive.
My only problem was the excessive use of fragments at times, but I grew used to that and it didn’t detract from the experience.
Details: 4/5: I had some trouble visualizing the characters. I could decently envision Kasey and Bailey, and I could definitely see Lauren and Andrew, but characters like Jade and some minor characters were difficult for me to imagine. However, the town and the setting was perfectly described. Not too much detail, but not too little.
World building: 4.5/5: Broken Falls is such a unique town. The folklore in particular gave the town a sense of authenticity, especially the story of Josephine Leeds. The buildings and shops all matched a small town too. Broken Falls is one of the more unique settings I’ve read in a non-fantasy book for a while.
- Psychological: Goodness, was this a psychological story. I love how it started off as a mystery, but started to delve into the character’s minds and became sort of a horror by the end.
- Plot twists: Usually, in a mystery, I guess the ending pretty easily. Or at least a major plot twist. Not here. I had guesses, but I didn’t end up seeing the end. There are enough twists and red herrings to successfully disguise the truth.
- Atmosphere: This book had an atmosphere of suspense. I don’t truly get scared by books, but this one certainly had me turning the pages faster and faster.
- I sort of wish some of the suspects had been written in the story a little more. While one of them was a really good character, I wish he had a bit more screen time (for the sake of a stronger personality)
- Fragments: There were a lot of fragmented sentences, where two sentences easily could’ve been combined into one. It’s a minor complaint.
- Please keep in mind this book gets very dark. That’s all I have to say (because spoilers)
Grade: 4.5/5. This is an amazing psychological thriller. It’s tense, well written, has a colorful cast of characters, has plenty of atmosphere, and has amazing plot twists. If you love a good psychological horror, this is a book you should definitely check out.