Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
———- Author Info ———-
Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food, but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She makes an amazing chocolate cherry cake frequently. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.
———- Synopsis ———-
Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother’s legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.
Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.
——— Review ———-
“I wanted to believe there was some hope for the hopeless.”
Girl at the Grave is a purely wonderful murder mystery read that thrills you with its suspense. There was always this hidden feeling I got with each turn of the page – almost like someone was behind me in the shadows watching as I discovered what Valentine discovers. It was a creepy story that left my heart breaking for Valentine in the end. It definitely tops my list for favorite Halloween reads.
“You’re not alone in the world. But I’ll stay away, if that’s what you want.”
Valentine is a struggling teen trying to overcome the stigma of her mother being a murderer which causes her to be treated as an outcast. If being a teenager itself wasn’t enough, her involuntary isolation from her peers finds herself holding a dying priest in her arms. As the story progresses, she learns the truth of a past she thought she knew and endures more heartache to the point where she almost gives up entirely. But her strength and resolve perseveres and is rewarded with an ending worthy of satisfaction.
I really enjoyed Valentine – she was a strong-willed young adult who never let anyone bring her down. From the first page in this story, her confidence in befriending Birdy, her independence in living with a very absentee father and her self-esteem with her appearance creates this very strong image for many readers teaching us how we should carry ourselves as well. I understood her choices when it came to Rowan and Sam and appreciated that the author allowed those choices to be wrong ones because never do we ever make the right choices and we fail at times so that we learn. I know that with Valentine’s mistakes she most definitely learns from them and grows into a better being.
Rowan and Sam are her love interests and both drastically different. Rowan’s past is hauntingly connected and similar to hers, so there is no question to the validity of their bond and how it develops into an attraction that is real and relatable. Even when she pushes him away, Rowan lets her because that is what it means when you love someone – you set them free when they need to fly. And he does this when she runs to Sam and again in the end when she seeks a different journey versus going to Europe with him. This makes Rowan the complete package for me despite his flaws because its shows how much he really values her and is willing to sacrifice for her in order to let her fly.
Sam is your typical best guy-friend growing up who feels a sort of entitlement when it comes to Valentine. To me, he made me feel like BECAUSE he knew her longer and *better* that she OUGHT to have ended up with him and so at times acted like a dick. That’s what made me dislike him because you are never entitled to love – you must earn it and work hard for it, not expecting anything from it otherwise you will get burned. Which is what sadly happened for Sam.
Lastly, Birdy is a character I absolutely adored. She reminded me so much so of Alice from Wonderland and if you’ve ever watched the ABC show Once Upon a Time, the actress who plays Alice is exactly who I imagined Birdy as throughout the entire novel. She had this innocence about her that makes you just want to care for her and that innocence also allowed her to be ignorant of what society thought of her. Sometimes I wish I was as blind to what people think of me – life would be so much easier wouldn’t it?
“Every kiss was different. And the same. And perfect.”
The setting of this novel was exceptional for a fall read especially if you love thrillers. The graveyard was one of the most prominent scenes I can recall from the story and I would often have that in the background of my imagination as I read this, picturing it as the continuous setting of my book-movie lol.
There is a very strong religious concept here too (Catholic) so there were lots of references to biblical themes. It didn’t interfere with much of the storyline, but did enhance my comprehension of why the characters acted the way they did.
The writing was flawless and was so creatively crafted that I had absolutely no idea who the villain was until it was revealed. To say I was shocked is a HUGE understatement. I don’t want to spoil it but I will say that there was no possible foreshadowing or hints that point to this villain. Superb job by Ms. Black for keeping it suspenseful and exciting and full of terror for me 🙂
The girl looked monstrous. Her cheek scarred by a slash. One eye blinded. Her neck severed and pieced back together. But it was something to hold on to, a remembrance of what I’d almost had.
——— Book Links ———-
———- GIVEAWAY ———-
Prize: Wonderland Book Beau, size XL for a standard hardcover (USA only)