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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

The Dead and the Dark, Courtney Gould: A Five-Star Review

I'd just finished Courtney Summers' The Project when The Dead and the Dark showed up in my queue. That cover reeled me in, and I couldn't wait to get started.

Logan's not thrilled about going to Snakebite. Scoping out a new location for their paranormal investigation show, Alejo and Brandon drag her anyway, but from the moment they arrive, nothing feels right. A boy has gone missing, and the newest arrivals become the objects of suspicion, regardless of their former ties to the remote Oregon town. But there's something much more nefarious lurking beneath Snakebite's surface, and paired with her sworn enemy, Logan is determined to find out what is. Okay. So. I *LOVED* this book. From page one, Logan's voice hooked me. Sarcastic, complex, and yearning, she was the perfect balance between clever and misguided. Where some YA can feel like an adult writing what they think teenagers sound like, Gould captured the essence of the in-between, what I usually think of in terms of "Crossroads" (I'm not a girl, not yet a woman...okay, I'll stop). Logan's on a gap year, searching for a sense of belonging and something more. Answers. Love. Home. She doesn't know, and that's okay--a topic I rarely see explored in the genre that feels so important in the changing academic environment. There's pressure to go to college, get a career, a family, but here, the pressure wasn't centered around this debate so much as Logan's choices were. Because when it comes down to it, life is more than the college we choose, and Gould's exploration of the dynamics of Snakebite really highlighted bigger issues: identity, sexuality, discrimination, depression. There were a lot of really important conversations happening (in the best possible way), without being voyeuristic, accusatory, exploitative, or condescending. We see characters struggling with change, truth, and growth, and this struck me as both authentic and necessary. The layers to The Dark--this aspect gave me serious Stephen King vibes. If you've read The Outsider, I think you'll love the atmosphere Gould creates here. I kept thinking The Outsider meets that one episode of Punky Brewster where she battles the darkness in the cave--archaic reference, yes, but I hope at least one other person gets it. And while I'm not one for romance, I was invested in the relationship arcs here. No spoilers, but every single one won my heart. From romance to friendship to the fluid definition of family, I was ugly crying by the end. Overall, The Dead and the Dark was a smart, creepy, twisty roller coaster of emotions from beginning to end. For fans of small-town horror with big-time ideas, add this to your TBR immediately and thank me later. Big thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.


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