Title: Girl at the Grave
Author: Teri Bailey Black (Debut)
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Release Date: August 7th 2018 from Tor Teen
Format: Physical ARC
*I requested this ARC and received it from the author in exchange for review. But all opinions are my own and no quotations will be used*
Goodreads Synopsis: Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother’s legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.
Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.
I’m glad that the general synopsis of this book is vague to be honest; I feel like many books give too much information away these days. This debut novel has a really intriguing mystery and it’s been one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I was so happy to get this ARC from the author and review it! So what did I think? Here’s the break down:
- Interesting mystery: The way the author puts the reader right into the mystery, especially how a lot of it unfolds is very well done. This didn’t feel like this was your normal cookie cutter mystery novel; unveiling more the layers enriched the main plot. The conclusion had also a cool ending that I didn’t expect.
- Product of the time: This is set in New England in 1849 and everything felt authentic from the clothing, dialogue, setting and atmosphere. I really felt transported back to that time period and this would make a great BBC movie or mini series 🙂
- Main Character: Valentine has a lot of good qualities in her. She’s a great role model for younger YA readers. Since her parents are nearly absent in the book, the author shows many ways in how Val takes care of herself and she’s a smart girl. Does she get distracted with being attracted to Rowan? Yes, but when you have no parental figure to help you figure things out, you overthink things, make mistakes and get distracted like any other human would. But her quest for truth is also very endearing and was great to read.
- Messages: This book really has some great messages of: courage, telling the truth, redeeming those who are innocent, forgiving yourself and finding unexpected love. Valentine’s story arc of being a broken girl, feeling guilty for her dark secrets, has a great overall story to forgive herself and know the truth. We need more messages like this in YA 🙂
- Ending: I honestly expected the ending to go in a specific direction but it didn’t quite do that and that was refreshing. I like that there’s hope for things to come, but that’s all I will get into without spoilers, other than I enjoyed the ending.
- Small Pacing Issue: I did feel like for about 70-90 pages in the middle of the book did make it a bit slow and boring. The way some things were revealed seemed too early and messed up the story’s pacing a little bit. During that time, I didn’t feel the book call to me.
- Drama: This book does have a bit of romantic drama, since it does have a love triangle. It wasn’t the trope itself that bugged me. I just felt like the romantic drama overtook the main mystery plot and it didn’t need too. Some people will think that some aspects of the romance and other stuff could be cheesy for them, but I liked how it all came together.
This did surprise me in a few ways. There was that brief chunk of the book where I didn’t love it and the drama won’t appeal to every reader. If you love reading Gothic historical romances and historical mysteries, this will be up your alley. In the end, there were some nice surprises and I’ll definitely read more books from this author in the future 🙂
Have you read this? Do you enjoy it as well? What other Gothic romance/mysteries do you recommend?