I Found the Perfect Read for Spooky Season (The Dead and the Dark book review)
GENRE: YA Fantasy LENGTH: 368 pages
Logan and her dads move to the small town of Snakebite, Oregon where kids are being murdered by a supernatural being. It's up to Logan and local Ashley to banish the Dark and return the town to the light.
There are two main characters in the novel. We have Logan who is the daughter of two dads that star in a ghost hunting show, and we have Ashley who is the town golden girl. Logan's parents and Ashley's friend group are more so supporting than main characters. Logan resents her parents for their nomadic lifestyle has its never allowed her to have a home. She is socially stiff and is distant from her dad Brandon. She has a character as well as in her background reminded me a lot of Sam Winchester from the first seasons of Supernatural. Indeed, I'd argue fans of those early seasons are exactly who I would recommend this book to.
Ashley is grieving her boyfriend, Tristan, who recently went missing, but she is also optimistic and sweet. Despite this she lacks a backbone and doesn't see her hometown for what it is. Like Logan she is increasingly lonely as Tristan's disappearance and changes in her worldview and demeanor alienate her friends. She can be a frustrating character at times, but she is well written as a product of her environment. She ultimately grows in a way that is satisfying.
Logan and Ashley have an enemies to lovers story arc. They are initially enemies because Logan's parents are the town pariahs, but they become reluctant allies in their quest to discover what's behind the slayings. Despite their obvious differences the two have a very natural development. They find solace in each other and understand each other in a way no one else does. Enemies to lovers is always hit or miss for me, but I've found that transitional period in which the couple is allies and/or friends is really key. Gould executes it well here.
The novel is told primarily though the third person perspectives of Logan, Ashley, and the Dark itself. There are a couple other narrators but I won't spoil who they are here. Getting to see the Dark's POV was super fascinating and really gave me the heebie-jeebies. I won't get into the explanation behind the Dark because that would be a spoiler. However, I will say that the Dark reads as a metaphor for prejudice and hatred and how it poisons people and communities. It's actually quite a brilliant one on Gould's part. As a writer and poet myself I admire her storytelling and lush descriptions very much.
This book is a standalone which is always refreshing to see in the fantasy genre. It also has a lot of mystery elements to the story so it has that cross genre appeal. Of all the genres paranormal/fantasy and mystery do tend to play the nicest with each other and this is a superb example of that. I don't say this a lot, but I really did devour this book. I didn't want to put it down. The mystery surrounding the Dark and the human characters alike really slithers under your skin in a good way.
This is one of the best YA fantasies I've read this year. You can expect to see it in the top 3 in my YA fantasy 2022 ranking for sure. As the title of this blog implies I think this is the ideal ghost story to get you in the right spirit (get it?) for the fall/Halloween season. As mentioned in the character section I do think it would be perfect for fans of Supernatural. Now that the show is finished if you're looking for something else to sink your teeth into then this could be a great choice!
FINAL RATING: 5⭐️