By Claire Legrand
Published October 2, 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
I read Furyborn by Claire Legrand earlier this year, and I loved it, so I wanted to check out her other books. When I heard she had another new book coming out this year and that it’s about girls who go missing on an island, I knew I had to have it.
The description made it sound like a mystery with some horror vibes, with maybe a Stephen King vibe. It turned out to be that, but also so much more. There’s feminism and misogyny and a little bit of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe.
On Sawkill Island, off the coast of New England, girls go missing every few years. It’s been happening for decades, but the people of Sawkill seem remarkably unconcerned. Zoey is concerned. Her former best friend Thora went missing a few months ago, not long after Thora was stolen away from Zoey by Val Mortimer, the local teen Queen Bee. Zoey is convinced that there’s something sinister going on and that Val is somehow involved. Because of her suspicions, Zoey has become persona non grata to everyone but her ex-boyfriend Grayson.
A new family comes to live on the island, sisters Marion and Charlotte and their mother. Grieving over their father’s recent death, the family has come to Sawkill to make a fresh start, but both girls come into Val’s orbit. Charlotte becomes Val’s latest BFF, and Zoey and Marion become friends, but Marion is fascinated by Val. Then Charlotte becomes the latest girl to go missing.
I won’t say much about the plot, because I didn’t know much going in, and it made the experience better for me. I will say that this book is creepy and wonderful and empowering. I expected a mystery, but what I got was a dark feminist tale with tangled, messy relationships, a take-down of the patriarchy, and an exploration of the way girls are pitted against each other. It’s spooky and extremely compelling. It’s also got some excellent diversity: two of the girls are queer and the third is asexual and African American.
The three main characters are all interesting in their own way. Zoey is determined to solve the mystery of the disappearances. As the daughter of the police chief and one of the only non-white, non-rich people on the island, she’s a bit of an outcast. She’s tough and tenacious, and she’s struggling to maintain a relationship with her ex-boyfriend Grayson. Val seems awful at first, just a typical mean girl. But there’s much more going on under the surface, and she’s a fascinating character. I just wanted to hug Marion. She’s lost her father, her sister has disappeared, and she starts experiencing strange physical symptoms. I like prickly, difficult girls, and this book gave me exactly that.
This book is just so good, and it’s really perfect for October, with its spooky vibes. Highly recommended.