Supernatural, But Make It Sapphic
"Imagine Riverdale crossing streams with Stephen King's The Outsider and you'll get a sense of this gripping supernatural mystery...Gould's debut begins as a snappy paranormal yarn and unspools into a profound story about the complex interplay between grief, guilt, and identity." - Oprah Daily
Courtney Gould’s thrilling YA debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places—and people—you didn’t expect.
The Dark has been waiting—and it won't stay hidden any longer.
Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just come to town.
Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV's ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before. But the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there's more than ghosts plaguing this small town. Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his ghost following her ever since. Although everyone shuns the Ortiz-Woodleys, the mysterious Logan may be the only person who can help Ashley get some answers.
When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness
This book has all the wrongness of Riverdale with the snarky personality of Supernatural, but instead of following two brothers, it centers on two teen girls. Logan Woodley-Ortiz brings all the sarcasm and angst to this novel, while still being very socially aware, as the daughter of gay parents Brandon and Alejo. She's self-assured and independent, craving freedom from her parents' hulking reputation. Ashley Barton is the princess of her small Oregon town. She's a golden child, she's used to her life looking and feeling a certain way. That is until her equally well-loved boyfriend disappears 6 months prior to page one. Now she's holding on to the last shred of hope in a town that has all but given up. She refuses to.
When Logan's family barrels into Ashley's town and, inadvertently her life, nothing is the same for either girl.
Logan's dealing with her own pain that includes a strained relationship with Brandon. Her frustrations only grow in stifling Snakebite, a town that hates her for existing, though she's never done anything to it. They feel offended by the presence of her whole family unit in part because the disappearance of their favorite son happened to coincide with Brandon's appearance in Snakebite, without Logan and Alejo. Between their complicated family dynamic, the unknown motivation as to why they needed to return to Snakebite, and the hostile environment in town, Logan's having a rough summer.
Ashley continues to search for her missing boyfriend while getting hints and whispers that there might be more happening in her happy little town. The perfect illusion that is cracked by his disappearance continues to fracture with every new vision and shadowed experience she goes through. It isn't until Logan comes along to confirm her feelings, though with less certainty, that she stops doubting herself and starts investigating what's really happening.
This duo grows closer with every shared experience, even within their arguments, their connection stretches its legs. Each of them is relatably flawed but together, they're perfect for this mystery.
And there's more than one mystery to be solved in Snakebite.
The revelations and plot twists in this novel so are well done, they just make sense. I couldn't have imagined a better version of this story if I tried. Gould did a phenomenal job getting to the truth of her characters, what they wanted, and what they needed. All of those added up to the messy, heartbreaking, suspense-filled events of this book.
The resolution doesn't tie up neatly with a nice bow. There is raw emotion in the ending of this book. It's a beautiful, well-earned, climax to a well-plotted story. With POC representation and the confrontation of hard topics like homophobia and losing a child and grief and sexuality and family relationships, I thoroughly enjoyed this read.
I would recommend this book for anyone who loves the CW's Nancy Drew and Riverdale. I will definitely be on the lookout for Courtney Gould's next novel.
PLEASE READ THE TRIGGER WARNINGS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE NOVEL
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