YA Paranormal Gothic Horror
A teen girl looking for the truth about her missing mother forms a reluctant alliance with her former best friend…in exchange for hiding him from his cult-leading family.
Wil Greene’s mom has been missing for over a year, and the police are ready to call the case closed–they claim she skipped town and you can’t find a woman who wants to disappear. But she knows her mom wouldn’t just leave…and she knows the family of her former best friend, Elwood Clarke, has something to do with it.
Elwood has been counting down the days until his 18th birthday–in dread. It marks leaving school and joining his pastor father in dedicating his life to their congregation, the Garden of Adam. But when he comes home after one night of after a final goodbye with his friends, already self-flagellating for the sins of drinking and disobeying his father, he discovers his path is not as virtuous as he thought. He’s not his father’s successor, but his sacrifice. For the woods he’s grown up with are thirsty, and must be paid in blood.
Now on the run from a family that wants him dead, he turns to the only one who will believe him: Wil. Together, they form a reluctant partnership; she’ll help him hide if he helps her find evidence that his family killed her mother. But in the end they dig up more secrets than they bargained for, unraveling decades of dark cult dealings in their town, led by the Clarke family.
And there’s a reason they need Elwood’s blood for their satanic rituals. Something inhuman is growing inside of him. Everywhere he goes, the plants come alive and the forest calls to him, and Wil isn’t sure if she can save the boy she can’t help but love.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.
Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.
“Growing up means learning to roll with the punches.”
“Then I’ll never grow up because I don’t plan on taking this lying down. If they’re punching me, then I’m punching back hard.”
(3 / 5) Wil has been searching for her missing mom for a year. Her suspicions lie with her previous best friend Elwood’s family, who is the son of the cult-leading Pastor.
The book took on the elements of grief, parental abuse, cults and alcoholism and blended into a gothic adventure that definitely kept me guessing. Wil was an MC you could root for and I crossed my fingers for her friendship to continue with Elwood.
“Mercy isn’t the idle moments between rage. It isn’t just the absence of pain.”
The cult and missing mom made this YA different than most I’ve read. While the blending of contemporary and paranormal aren’t particularly my jam, it was done well enough to keep my interest. The ending really encumbered those two genres and was a bit much for my brain to grasp but there were still creepy elements beforehand that made me intrigued to finish. So while parts were exciting, the end just didn’t work for me. Until that point, it was weird and interesting and kept me guessing. I recommend for the gothic paranormal lovers!
General content summary: F words= 8, mother is missing, a father dies by suicide (pills), animal sacrifices in the name of religion (multiple, some details), alcohol (some underage, multiple, alcoholism), child physical and emotional abuse (some details), details of a possible murdered body, details of killed animal, hallucinations, religious cult, physical violence (blunt object), m/f kisses, m/f intimacy (closed door scene), skeletons and long-dead corpses, captivity (tied up), bleeding to death, stabbing, creature attacks and kills (some details, blood).
Thank you to Penguin Teen for the gifted copy!
The book releases August 29, 2023.
**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.