Let me fangirl for a moment. I was excited to read Kara Thomas’s YA novel from the get-go. But then it only got more awesome because A) she’s local(ish) so I immediately emailed Jennifer Murgia and was like, WE NEED TO GET HER FOR YA FEST! And then B) she’s a True Crime Addict.
And then, as I was reading, she mentions me & Katie’s hometown!
I mean, this book really just kept getting more and more awesome.
So. If that’s not enough for you to immediately go out and read this book, I’ll give you an actual review. I’ll try to stay away from spoilers, because there are a few MAJOR twists I didn’t see coming at the end…
The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
Delacorte Press, 2016.
What It’s About:
Tessa returns home to Fayette, Pennsylvania when she receives word her father is on his death-bed. (She’s been living in Florida for the last 10 years with her maternal grandmother. Her father’s also in jail.) She stays at the home of childhood best friend, Callie, and her parents. (Callie’s mom, Maggie, was always a maternal figure for Tessa.)
But, Tessa’s too late. Her father died earlier the morning she arrived in Fayette. But there’s mysteries left behind. Her sister — who she hasn’t seen in 10 years — visited her father a few days before his death. Tessa wants to find out if Joslin (her sister) is still in the area, and if she is…she has some questions she wants answered.
So, that starts the basic set-up of the novel. But wait! There’s more synopsis…after the cut.
Here are a few other things that happen early in the novel to help guide the rest of the plot:
- Tessa and Callie were witnesses in a murder trial when they were 8 years old. Callie’s older cousin, Lori, was killed by the Ohio River Monster — a serial killer.
- The serial killer — Wyatt Stokes — is petitioning for a new trial based on new evidence.
- Tessa’s and Callie’s childhood friend, Ariel, winds up dead. She’s killed in the same exact way as the other girls the ORM killed 10 years previously.
- Tessa and Callie team up to find out who really is the ORM. Callie because she wants to clear the name of a new suspect. Tessa because she needs to know the truth.
So, My Thoughts:
I suppose it’s not fair if I just gush about how awesome the book was without giving you any real context as to why I think it’s so awesome. So I’ll try to be coherent in my thoughts.
First of all, the plot. I mean, Thomas is actually a true crime addict. I felt like I was reading a real true crime book (or listening to one of my favorite podcasts — I’m looking at you, True Crime Garage). I had to keep reminding myself that this was a young adult fiction book and not something real. It is written in first person from Tessa’s POV (which helped me separate truth from reality), but the flow of events was just that smooth. Every time Tessa found out something new, the reader did, too. And I was like Oh! Awesome!
The characters were pretty awesome. And they’re recognizable as YA characters. Tessa and Callie were BFFs to the 100th degree when they were kids. But after the trial, and when Tessa moved to Florida, they didn’t talk. And it’s obvious it affected them both. (Spoiler! They do have a heart-to-heart later in the book about it.) And really, they’re just two teenage girls who suffered massive trauma when they were kids. They’re trying to figure out something the police aren’t even looking into. So there’s definitely some bumps along the way.
Did I mention the true crime aspect? This is one of the first YA murder/mysteries that I’ve read that feels like it’s not just a cliche mystery. It’s a legit story that really makes sense and draws you in. (Thomas does have experience writing adult books, so that may be part of the reason.) But, I’ve been on a true crime kick lately, and, like I said, this really felt like I was listening to something true that happened.
So, seriously. You need to go out and read this book. Right. Now. This is definitely going on my Librarian’s Bookshelf, too.
That’s right. This is a “This book is a “forget your homework, don’t feed your kids, and quit your job one-sit read” book.