Published by Delacorte
Published on 19 April 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, United States, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.
There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.
Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.
Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.
But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.
Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.
The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas is this author’s debut, and as much as I enjoyed it, I think I enjoyed her later novels more. I definitely feel that she grew as a writer through her next few novels. This one felt a bit like a mystery, but never really pulled off suspense or thriller for me. I still did find it an interesting and engaging book, mostly because of the use of a few clever plot twists.
Tessa reluctantly returns to her hometown after ten years of living interstate because her father is dying, however she uncovers old secrets and re-establishes connections with old friends, staying with her former BFF, Callie, whom she had a falling out with after the two were coerced into testifying against a man suspected of being a serial killer. Now Tess is questioning if the Ohio River Monster is actually behind bars, or if there is a copycat out there, when one of her friends winds up murdered.
As Tessa delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding the murders of several young girls years before, Thomas skillfully weaves a web of intrigue, gradually revealing truths and surprising connections, along with surprisingly deep nuance from Tessa.
Now, while I feel that this book didn’t quite reach the level of thriller as Thomas’s later work (especially The Cheerleaders, which was very good), is does exhibit Thomas’s future potential, and her subsequent works so showcase her growth in YA suspense and thriller.
I really enjoyed the way Tessa investigated, kind of like a modern day Harriet the Spy, with finding old phone books, and wiping her search history from computers. I did find myself questioning what was a red herring and what was not, but I’m only a little put out to say that leading a reader in one obvious direction for so long only to spring a completely different villain for only vaguely related reasons right near the very end was a little off kilter. Although I do remember thinking that it did seem particularly ‘Kara Thomas’-ish to reveal everything this way. I remember the blurb for The Cheerleaders tricked me, and I remember thinking about all three of her books that I have read now (along with Little Monsters) that it’s not the cleanest, most efficient suspense/thriller, but all three books did feel very distinctly Thomas branded. It’s not disappointing, just different.
Tessa herself was also an interesting character: her self-awareness made me chuckle, and she totally owned up to being… shall we say, not the greatest person. It’s also remarkable that Tessa is eighteen and starting college soon: most YA books have the character a year or two younger, though Tessa’s age doens’t really affect the narrative at all. She’s still quite young (I say as someone who’s been reading YA for 20 years *cough*AHEM*cough*)
Despite the slightly different tone to what I expected, this books was still a good audiobook to experience, with a competent narrator, and an interesting mystery or two to keep readers flipping pages. Thomas’s writing style is engaging, drawing you into the narrative, and I was happy to go along for the ride.
While it might not deliver the relentless suspense of a seasoned thriller, Kara Thomas’s debut novel showcases her potential and sets the stage for the thrilling works that follow.