Genre: YA Thriller
When they were nine, Tessa and her best friend, Callie, gave testimony that sent a man to death row for the murder of Callie’s cousin and several other young women. Soon after, Tessa left the small town of Fayette, Pennsylvania, to live with her grandmother and hasn’t spoken to Callie since.
Because the truth is, the girls lied.
However, the summer Tessa and Callie graduate high school, Tessa’s father dies in prison, and Tessa returns to Fayette. She only intends to stay with Callie and her family for a few days, but while she’s in town one of Callie’s friends is found murdered in an eerily similar manner to the girls who were killed years before. Moreover, the man Tessa and Callie put in prison will soon face execution and it appears that Tessa’s estranged sister is also back in town, but using a false name.
For Callie and Tessa to move on with their lives, they must first find a way past the silence that’s grown between them and figure out who the real monster is before a potentially innocent man is put to death and more women are murdered.
The Darkest Corners (Delacorte Press, Apr. 2016) is a sinister tale of the devastating consequences of small lies.
I thought I knew exactly where this book was headed. I imagined it was going to be somewhat similar to Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls, which I read earlier this year and loved. There were definite similarities: girl returns to her hometown, which she fled following a horrific crime years before; girl knows something about said crime that she isn’t telling; the repressed returns to bite girl in the butt; thrills and intrigue ensue.
Okay, actually that describes the plot of a bunch of books and films, and it’s a plot I generally enjoy, but I gotta be honest, The Darkest Corners didn’t do it for me.
While Tessa and Callie are well-drawn characters and I enjoyed the tension between them as they worked through the breakdown of their friendship and tried to find a way back to trusting each other, the story was all over the place.
The opening chapters promise mystery and intrigue, but then Tessa spends aaaaggggeeeeesss cycling around town trying to track down people who might be able to help her find her sister and/or figure if the latest murder is linked to the crimes from years before. Then Callie eventually comes to the party, and they start driving around and asking questions together. They discover small bits of useful information, but there’s not a lot of action, and the plot begins to stall. Then, in the final chapters, the story takes an unexpected turn, and it’s suddenly ACTION, ACTION, ACTION!
I found the last section of the book particularly problematic. It’s tricky to talk about without heading into spoiler territory, but the murder plot falls by the wayside and the focus shifts to a different sub-polt. It’s almost as though Thomas has combined two books in one and I found the non-murder story rushed and a bit ridiculous.
Because the book is essentially two stories, there are a large number of characters to keep track of; however, many of them could be cut without affecting the story.
While I found The Darkest Corners entertaining, the narrative lacked the tautness, pacing and control I look for in a psychological thriller.
Thank you to Delacorte Press for providing a copy of The Darkest Corners in exchange for an honest review.
Thanks also to Grammarly for picking up three critical issues and eighteen advanced issues in my draft of this review. If, like me, you have trouble with typos, do give Grammarly a go!
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