By Alexandra Sirowy
Expected publication August 18, 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
When Stella was a young girl, she disappeared with her best friend. She came back. Her best friend never did. But Stella has tried to move on with her life. Then, a body is discovered - the body of a little red-headed girl, a body that reminds Stella all too much of her disappeared best friend. When Stella learns that other red-headed girls have vanished over the years, she knows she must solve the mystery.
The promise of a creepy mystery drew me into downloading this e-galley when I discovered it. I love reading horror novels but I haven't had a ton of luck with YA horror. Nevertheless, I'm determined to keep trying them.
Here is my main problem with this book: any creepiness that may be generated by the possibly-uncovering-a-spooky-monster-in-the-woods-that-eats-little-red-headed-girls-and-anyone-who-comes-close-to-discovering-it is completely nullified every single gosh darn time Stella worries that her image might be tarnished by trying to solve the mystery with her former best friend and current high school loser, Sam. And, lo, my friends, those times are many. I literally could not believe how much of her headspace and time Stella devotes to worrying about being seen with Sam or concerned that her terribly abusive new best friend, Zoey, will be pissed when she finds out that Stella has been seeing Sam behind her back. I mean, there may be a scary monster that eats people out there and you may be next on its list (or maybe it's a creepy multi-generational cult), but let's go ahead and worry more about drama surrounding the boy you like. Just, excuse me while I try to stop my eyerolling.
That being said, I thought the book did a decent job of walking the line between a supernatural monster and a human one, keeping readers guessing until the very end which kind it will turn out to be. Personally, I worried that the monster was going to be the one I didn't want (no, I will not tell you which of those options I mean), but I was happy when the ending resolved things in a way that felt believable to me. So, though I struggled with the atmosphere of the book and the characters, the mystery itself was well done and I'd be interested in reading what Sirowy does next.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.