Subjects: murder, death, islands, summer
Setting: Gant Island in Washington state
POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Lana
Age/Grade Level: Teen
Length: 387 pgs.
List Price: $17.99
Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
Summary/ product description: “Lana used to know what was real.
That was before when her life was small and quiet.
Her golden step-brother, Ben, was alive, she could only dream about bonfiring with the populars, their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell the truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.
Then came after.
After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, and living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: Love, blood, and murder.”
My Review: The Telling is a standalone murder-mystery thriller set on an island in Washington State, called Gant. Lana’s step-brother was possibly or probably murdered two month ago in June. His ex-girlfriend was suspected in helping a car jacking that led to his dead. Ben had stopped the car for a stranger and was attacked and stabbed and then dragged away. Lana spent about a month after his death moping at home until a note Ben left jolts her out of her grief. She starts hanging out with the popular kids, who she’d never thought would include her in anything.
These kids made fun of her in middle school and some of high school. Now it’s August and soon school starts. These popular kids known around town as the Core (Becca, Carolynn, Rusty, Duncan and Josh) are with Lana and Willa (Lana’s only previous friend) at a spring in the woods hanging out and drinking. They dare each other to jump off a cliff into the lake and when they do they find a body stuck under the water: Ben’s ex-girlfriend, Maggie. And when they report the body they suddenly become suspects. But this murder is only the beginning and Lana and the Core have to find the murderer before they become victims.
Ben, Lana’s stepbrother, has a mysterious past. He arrives with his mother Diane, when he was twelve. Diane became Lana’s father’s new wife. Lana’s mother died when Lana was four. Ben’s been telling Lana fantastical stories of good vs. evil since he came. In these stories, Lana and Ben are always the heroes and Lana’s a brave warrior. These stories are sometimes disturbing a violent. They’re not the sort of thing out of a kid’s imagination. Lana was addicted to those stories. They made her feel strong. She wanted to be brave like that Lana. Ben was obsessed with adventure and getting out of Gant. He wanted to do something important with his life, so he spent some time in Guatemala helping to build wells. Gant is a place full of rich people who have excess and Ben found it disgusting, yet his life was full of riches too. He considered himself a hypocrite, and said he wanted to leave Gant after high school.
I really enjoyed the book. I usually only read sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal stuff, but because this had a ghost-story horror feel to it, I didn’t care. It’s a very atmospheric book. The misty setting of Washington in late summer became a character itself. I recently watched the TV series Dead of Summer and even though that was paranormal and not contemporary, it had the same kind of creepy summer feel. I read The Creeping last year by this author and enjoyed it.
Also, I really am amazed that I was right about the twist. I had this epiphany when I was maybe a third of the way into the book that if I was the author, I would totally make the killer someone so unsuspected, so I went off on a limb on this idea, was pulled away from it by some possibilities, but inevitably came back to the this conclusion which turned out to be right. I sure it was just foreshadowing or maybe a cliché in classic horror and not actually as clever a twist I thought, or maybe I have a psychic superpower for guessing plot twists, because I right maybe half the time or more. It’s really hard to talk about it because it’s too big of a spoiler, but I saw it coming somehow. I WAS RIGHT!!!!
Cover Art Review: I love the opalline paper this is printed on. The cover itself is creepy and definitely gives you a sense of the story inside.