Rating: 4/5 stars
Release Date: 1st September 2015 (USA). 13th October 2015 (UK).
Gramps always said that when the crickets were quiet, something bad was coming. And the crickets have been as silent as the dead. It started with the murdered deer in the playground with the unmistakable purple of a foxglove in its mouth. But in the dying boondock town of Emerald Cove, life goes on.
I work at Gramps’s diner, and the cakes―the entitled rich kids who vacation here―make our lives hell. My best friend, Alex Pace, is the one person who gets me. Only Alex has changed. He’s almost like a stranger now. I can’t figure it out…or why I’m having distinctly more-than-friend feelings for him. Ones I shouldn’t be having.
Then one of the cakes disappears.
When she turns up murdered, a foxglove in her mouth, a rumor goes around that Alex was the last person seen with her—and everyone but me believes it. Well, everyone except my worst enemy, Jenika Shaw. When Alex goes missing, it’s up to us to prove his innocence and uncover the true killer. But the truth will shatter everything I’ve ever known about myself — and Alex.
I wanted to be wrong about that deer being the beginning of something. God, did I want to be wrong.
The Foxglove Killings by Tara Kelly is a murder-mystery-come-thriller style novel of the young adult genre. Thus, there are barriers to how graphic the book can be. A barrier that Kelly is pressed up against. Frankly, this book isn’t for the faint hearted, and there were times I wanted to hide from this book due to it being so unnerving, yet horrifically possible.
Frankly, when I read the synopsis for this book, I wasn’t sold, mainly due to said synopsis being writing in first person, which simply confused me. It made the book appear much more childish and predictable than it is. However, I thought I may as well give it a go, because I am beginning to enjoy murder-mystery-thrillers more and more.
Firstly, this book got straight into the action, which I loved. Sometimes it works when authors build up the story before the action starts trickling in, but other times, it’s nice to be plunged straight in the deep end, and build up the character’s stories as you go. Kelly’s method of doing this allowed us to uncover facts about the characters that only ever added to the murder case; every detail about each character is useful to the cause, and is never included just to fill space, which would’ve happened had Kelly opted for a drawn-out opening to her novel. However, this did mean that a few of the characters were underdeveloped, and some actions from certain characters seemed very much out of character from what we knew so far. Granted, though, this does add to the mystery aspect, and succeeds in daunting you.
Another good point to this book is that each detail is relevant. There is no idle chit-chat without meaning, which you either discover at the time, or later on in the novel. Some details are given that – at the time – seem as though they’ve been included in order to unsettle your stomach, however each of these details eventually comes to light as a motive, which I think is very clever.
Unfortunately, there were a few downfalls here and there. First of all, I feel as though sometimes Kelly mentioned things and didn’t stick to it. For example, in the first chapter, Jenika says “Quack, quack” to Nova – the protagonist – leaving Nova to explain that “One day [Jenika]’d decided I looked like a duck and never got over it.” However, this is the first, last, and only time Jenika is cruel to her in this manner. Nova’s explanation leaves us to think this duck comparison is common, yet Jenika is in this book a lot, and never again taunts Nova in this way. Also, as is mentioned, the silent crickets are a big part of the synopsis, yet are only mentioned once in the book.
Furthermore, another negative would be typical young adult clichés: “We were listening to Catherine Wheel, one of our favourite ’90s bands.” Help me – can I not escape these overworked wannabe-grunge characters? It’s way too overdone, and doesn’t add anything to the story other than a straining to be relatable.
Finally, there was some examples of sloppy writing. For instance, little things occur like “Alex and me” instead of “Alex and I”, however, overall, the writing was generally good.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, despite it scaring the life out of me. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through, and the ending was very much unprecedented on my part. As much as I do recommend this book, though, I do not recommend you read this book before bed, like I did…Big mistake!
(Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to send a big thank you to NetGalley for this book, and also to everyone at Entangled Publishing, as well as Tara Kelly herself.)