Review

Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé

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The Blair Witch Project meets Imaginary Girls in this story of codependent sisterhood, the struggle to claim one’s own space, and the power of secrets

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye's window in the middle of the night, claiming she's the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.
(Goodreads)

Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé was everything I wanted and more. The dark, unsettling thriller gave my goosebumps goosebumps. The imagery was haunting, the premise was unique, and the execution was boundary-pushing. Out of all the contemporary fantasy releases I've read so far this year, Here There Are Monsters has become my favorite.

Content warnings: animal deaths, self-harm, graphic descriptions of innards

Preorder here.

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

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Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.
(Goodreads)

If you're into dark, beautifully-written, unapologetic fiction that never dumbs itself down for you, preorder Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin right. now.

It's stunning, empowering, and cinematic. Sharp, fast-paced, and gripping. It's like reading the murderer's side of a murder mystery, except you're cheering her on. Jade (Elle) is fierce and unforgettable. Her story will sit with readers for a long time; in fact, I think about this story more often than most others.

For a list of content warnings, please visit: https://www.hannahcapin.com/foulisfair

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin, which I give a screaming! 5! out! of! 5! stars, is available for preorder now and will be published February 4, 2020.

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash

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How bad can one little virtual lie be?

NYU freshman Mariam Vakilian hasn’t dated anyone in five months, not since her high school sweetheart Caleb broke up with her. So, when she decides to take advantage of an expiring coupon and try out a new virtual reality dating service, it’s sort of a big deal.

It’s an even bigger deal when it chooses as one of her three matches none other than Caleb himself. That has to be a sign, right?

Except that her other match, Jeremy, just happens to be her new best friend IRL.

Mariam’s heart is telling her one thing, but the app is telling her another. So, which should she trust? Is all fair in modern love? (Goodreads)

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash was more than I was expecting. From the summary, I expected a cute rom-com with recognizable tropes, but what I got was a deep exploration of coming of age. I loved the characters; they all felt real and whole and likable. I appreciated that there's no real antagonist because Mariam, the protagonist, is the one holding herself back, which meant there was no mean girl or mean love interest. The setting was one I wish to see in more YA: college. It didn't focus much on the classes, but instead on the free time Mariam had; it was still enjoyable because that's the majority of college time anyway, and where young adults turn into the people they'll most likely be for years to come. I almost always enjoy a good morally gray character whose thrust into awkward situations by her own making, so I loved that Mariam made the decision to go out with her ex to prove a point, even if it meant lying to him and things potentially crashing and burning. For the most part, Virtually Yours had the ending I expected, but it felt earned and right.

I give Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash, out June 4, 2019, 5 out of 5 stars. (Preorder)