Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain.
Special thanks to Razorbill/Penguin for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Goodreads: Dark and Shallow Lies
Publication Date: 31 August 2021
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller, YA Fantasy
A teen girl disappears from her small town deep in the bayou, where magic festers beneath the surface of the swamp like water rot, in this chilling debut supernatural thriller for fans of Natasha Preston, Karen McManus, and Rory Power.
La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide.
This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World—and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier.
Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something—her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave.
When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou—a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history—Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent—and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.
BUY A COPY:
Ginny Myers Sain is the author of DARK AND SHALLOW LIES, her debut YA novel available 8-31-21 from Razorbill/Penguin. Although she comes from a long line of writers, her first love has always been the theatre. She has a degree in theatre and has spent most of her career teaching acting and directing plays and musicals. Ginny currently live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her teenage son and a very cowardly doberman named Shipley. When she is not working in the theatre or writing, you’re likely to find her listening to true crime podcasts, taking pictures of alligators, eating tacos, or planning a trip to Walt Disney World.
Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.
TL;DR: I don’t read a lot of mystery/thrillers so for the most part I enjoyed this book. It was a very fast and easy read and surprisingly, didn’t have many scary paranormal or supernatural elements in the way the synopsis led me to believe! As The Ultimate Chicken™️ when it comes to that kind of stuff, it was a big relief for me and I think it allowed me to enjoy this more! To its credit, Dark and Shallow Lies didn’t go in the direction I thought it would go based on the synopsis and despite having guessed many of the twists at the beginning, I did enjoy the reveals as they came. That said, the ending was a bit anti-climatic and I felt the overall execution of the story could’ve been done better.
CW/TW: murder, abuse, suicide, arson, immolation, house fire, self-harm, hurricane, flooding, incest (step-siblings)
“What’s past is prologue”The Tempest
I loved the Deep South setting. The author did a great job of building this intense and spooky goosebumpy atmosphere from the beginning. It makes you question whether you know what’s going to happen next or not—is a ghost going to appear or is there some other terrifying supernatural monster that’s going to jump out? The bayou town of La Cachette was described really well and it was easy to picture the scenes, not to mention that I enjoyed how the author used the town’s exterior, with its yearly upkeep to mask the actual rot underneath, as a metaphor for the dark festering secrets the townspeople keep hidden beneath their friendly and welcoming demeanour. La Cachette is the self-proclaimed “Psychic Capital of the World” and I actually really enjoyed reading about the different psychic powers that everyone has. It lent the story a more “lite paranormal fantasy” vibe because it was more than just reading tarots or seeing the future. Again, I don’t read too many paranormal books so the powers were mostly “new” to me, but I was particularly intrigued by Case’s bilocation ability. Who wouldn’t want that power?!
The story is told through Grey’s POV and we get flashes of another person’s POV between chapters. I liked those flashes because it worked to amp up the tension in the mystery. Grey interacts with very few townsfolk and mostly spends time with her grandmother, Honey, the “Summer Children”, and Zale. The “Summer Children” are the ten babies who were all born in the same year and who grew up together in La Cachette but we learn that two of them were murdered when they were young, and when Grey was still living there. I did hope that we’d get more scenes with the friend group—I was intrigued by what little we learn of the characters, but sadly we don’t get more. There is also a bit of a love triangle that doesn’t come to be in the story. I’m not a fan of love triangles so I’m glad it didn’t become one because it would’ve been unnecessary, but I also feel like the “fake love triangle” wasn’t needed either. I wasn’t particularly sold on either love interests and found Grey’s “wishy-washy” attitude towards them a bit irritating.
“Because even when the secrets we hide aren’t our own, the weight of them can still be enough to drown us.”
The deeper Grey gets into investigating the disappearance of her best friend, the more disturbing ties to the past are discovered and the more lies there are to unravel. While I did find the mystery intriguing, it was predictable, and I say that as someone who is quite terrible at guessing whodunit in mysteries. I was able to guess 95% of the twists very early on but the author did keep me on my toes and really made me question if any of my guesses were right, and despite being right, there is some good build-up to the reveals. As there was a lot to unravel, there were still elements of surprise to me and I enjoyed how the author tied in the past to the present. That said, I found the actual reveal of the perpetrator and their justification for why they did it fairly anti-climactic…
There were also some supernatural elements that were introduced and then just “left” there without an explanation for how or why, and it was as if the author was trying to include too many elements, making the story feel a bit unfinished/undone. At close to 500 pages though the story itself was very drawn out and didn’t need to be that long. Although I did finish this in a matter of hours, I found a big chunk of the middle was a slog to get through and I found myself skimming details as the pace slowed considerably and not much happened.
“How do you keep a secret in a town full of psychics?” I ask him, and light flashes bright in those ice-fire eyes. “You tell the truth,” he answers. “At least part of it.”
Overall, this was an interesting mystery that made me appreciate books set in the Deep South even more, and I enjoyed the author’s writing and how she brought the setting to life. There were some great mysterious vibes and I liked how some twists were revealed towards the end. While I’m disappointed the ending was anti-climactic I’m glad I read this one and would recommend it to those who don’t often read paranormal mysteries but would like to read them more!
Have you read Dark and Shallow Lies or is it on your TBR?