Title: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
For fans of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places and Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars, The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.
There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.
Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.
Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.
But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.
Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.
The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas is a riveting young adult mystery. Tessa Lowell’s return to Fayette, PA stirs up not only unpleasant memories of her family’s dysfunctional past but it also raises some unsettling questions about a serial killer’s conviction.
Ten years earlier, eight year old Tessa and her best friend Callie Greenwood’s testimony was instrumental in putting accused killer Wyatt Stokes on death row. Tessa’s family slowly imploded afterwards and she moved from Fayette to live with her grandmother in FL. Estranged from her family and the friends she left behind, she returns to Fayette to say goodbye to her dying father only to discover he passed away before her arrival. Stunned to discover her runaway older sister, Joslin, visited their father, Tessa begins the arduous task to locating her and their missing mother. As Tessa and Callie slowly reconnect, a stunning murder which bears eerie similarities to Stokes’ victims rocks the small town and the girls become convinced they helped put the wrong man behind bars for the earlier murders. Tessa and Callie slowly repair their fractured friendship and put themselves in harm’s way as they embark on an investigation into Ohio River Monster murders.
Tessa is closed off, emotionally distant and finds it impossible to ask for help. The loss of Callie’s friendship was a devastating blow and returning to Fayette resurrects the painful memories of that long ago period in her life. Tessa’s reunion with Callie is fraught with tension and their first few encounters are awkward as they try to find common ground. After one of their childhood friends turns up missing, the two young women finally begin comparing notes about their testimony and they are shocked to discover they both have doubts about Stokes’ conviction. Fully realizing the devastating effects reopening the case will have on Callie’s family, the two women nonetheless feel compelled to uncover the truth about the murder of Callie’s cousin, Lori, the Ohio River Monster’s final victim.
Even before Lori’s murder, Tessa’s family life was not exactly happy as they struggled to make ends meet. Her father is a hard drinking man who turned to a life of crime after losing his job. Her mother is somewhat fragile and overly involved in her and her much older sister Joslin’s lives. Joslin is a rebellious teenager who is hanging with a bad crowd and dating a somewhat unsavory older young man. After Lori’s death, Callie’s family moved to a different neighborhood and the lack of close proximity was the beginning of the growing distance between the two girls. After Tessa’s father was arrested and sentenced to life in prison, Joslin’s relationship with their mother deteriorated and she ran away from home without warning. After Jolin left home, their mother became deeply depressed and terrified about what was happening, Tessa turned to Callie’s mom for help.
Despite a bit of a slow start, The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas quickly picks up speed and hurtles to a dramatic and jaw dropping conclusion. As Tessa and Callie begin digging into the past, long buried secrets begin bubbling to the surface. Twists and turns, red herrings and numerous suspects keep them (and the reader) guessing the truth about the identity of the Ohio River Monster. This dark and gritty young adult mystery is a captivating read that I highly recommend to readers of all ages.