Title: The Dead and the Dark
Author: Courtney Gould
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Fantasy, Mystery, LGBTQ+
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I already knew that I love intriguing thrillers, ghost stories, and sapphic romances, but I didn’t realize how badly I needed these things to be woven together until I read Courtney Gould’s debut novel. The Dead and the Dark was engaging and atmospheric, filled with complex characters and intriguing revelations.
Logan Ortiz-Woodley has lived her life on the road, traveling from place to place as her dads, Alejo and Brandon, explore haunted locations on their TV show, ParaSpectors. When her dads bring her to their hometown of Snakebite, Oregon, they tell her they are investigating the mysterious disappearance of a local teenager named Tristan. Logan suspects that there’s more to the situation than Alejo and Brandon are telling her, so she teams up with Ashley Barton, Tristan’s girlfriend, to try to get some answers about what’s really happening in Snakebite.
This book had me hooked. It was so suspenseful; the constant feeling that something important was about to happen made The Dead and the Dark unputdownable. I was not disappointed in those moments that I chose to read “just one more chapter,” because important information was revealed frequently. Throughout the course of this novel, all of my questions about the mysterious town of Snakebite were answered one by one. I had a lot of predictions as to what was going to happen but none of them were correct, and I loved how unpredictable this story was.
As for Snakebite itself, Gould skillfully created a small rural town that I was able to envision perfectly. Her descriptions of the atmosphere were so incredibly rich and detailed that she managed to bring the setting of Snakebite to life, as if it was another character. I also thought that the way most of the residents of Snakebite acted towards Logan and her dads provided important commentary. Many of the townspeople have close-minded views and show contempt of “outsiders.” As Ashley develops a relationship with Logan and turns her back on Snakebite’s old-fashioned and bigoted ways, the reader sees the value of treating others with empathy and understanding.
The only thing I didn’t love about this book was one of the main aspects of the ending. Click here for an explanation. Warning: This contains spoilers!One of the main focuses of this novel was the relationship between Logan and Brandon. Although Logan and Alejo are very close, there has always been a wall between Logan and Brandon. At the end of The Dead and the Dark, this issue is finally resolved. I really wanted to see more of their new family dynamic at the end, but instead we fast-forward to Logan leaving her dads to travel and visit new places with Ashley. As happy as I was for Logan and Ashley, I just felt like there was so much discussion of the conflict between Logan and Brandon, only for her to move on anyways.
Overall, I thought this was an excellent debut novel! I would highly recommend it, especially to readers who like intriguing mysteries with spooky atmospheres. I’m certainly looking forward to reading more by Courtney Gould in the future.
What are your favorite young adult mystery/thriller or horror novels? What books have you read that have a spooky atmosphere?