By: McCormick Templeman
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 2012
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 2012
This is one author who has, with this title, completely blown adult suspense right out of the water.
The scene is a boarding school - one of those ritzy places that cater to the wealthy children who seem to want for nothing and only care about themselves. These are also the kids who have the power to bully someone they feel is ‘less’ than what they are on the ladder of success and popularity. But when they meet up with Cally Wood, an extremely intelligent and sarcastic girl who transfers during the middle of her junior year, the rich kids at St. Bede’s realize they’ve met their match. Of course…the secret that Cally is hiding not only involves these school grounds set far away from civilization, but also involves a killer who has never been found.
A while back, when Cally was very young, her sister went with a friend to St. Bede’s to enjoy the summer at the closed school. On her third night there…she disappeared and was never found. Cally is offered a full ride to St. Bede’s years later because of this horrific incident and the school wanting to keep the whole thing quiet.
Cally has a rough life. After her sister disappeared, her father was struck down by a heart attack and her mother became a drunk, so she’s more than happy to leave home and head for the posh school.
When she arrives, she meets many - Freddy, a redheaded Class President; Sophie, who becomes her bff; as well as Jack, a highly stunning young man who is ambivalent to the fairer sex and doesn’t date. The two who make Cally cringe at first is her roommate, Helen, and Helen’s more quiet punk-rocker sister, Noel. Helen automatically gives off that vibe - she’s beautiful and everyone knows it, very wealthy, has hidden secrets, and is so fake when she smiles that she looks more like a killer than a teenager.
As Cally begins her new life, romance blossoms, gauntlets are thrown, but more frightening than anything else is the fact that ‘The Little Woods’ behind St. Bede’s seems to be the Bermuda Triangle. Not only did Cally’s sister and her young friend disappear here long ago, but now others are disappearing as well. When a puzzle box is delivered to Cally, the secrets begin to unravel and the school becomes a playground for a killer who wants to hide the past.
This is one of those very rare YA’s (heck, any genre, for that matter) that is a ‘5-star’ read. The writer offers a plot full of suspense, and characters coming out of the woodwork with such different personalities that the reader has no idea who the real culprit is going to be. The story never slows down and readers will want to keep this particular title on their home bookshelf so that they can reread it anytime they want!