Friendship and fandom turn deadly for a group of teen girls.
Quiet Mia, brash Brynn, and beautiful Summer—three 13-year-old friends living in rural Vermont—all bonded over their love of an obscure children’s fantasy book The Way Into Lovelorn. Lovelorn has a famous midsentence ending, and the girls decide to compose their own fanfiction to imagine its resolution. However, when Summer is brutally murdered, Mia and Brynn (along with their friend Owen) are wrongfully accused of the crime, propelling the teens into unfortunate infamy with the moniker The Monsters of Brickhouse Lane. Five years later, they reunite to try to catch Summer’s murderer. Alternating chapters, which jump between Mia’s and Brynn’s perspectives from when they were 13 and the present, also include snippets of metafictitious Lovelorn and bits of the girls’ fanfiction. Although many other offerings have examined the turbulent machinations of teen girls, Oliver (Ringer, 2017, etc.) nimbly navigates the obsessive and erratic bonds the girls forge; mercurial Summer vacillates from charming to malicious, bewildering the others. While the characters are deftly portrayed, the mystery meanders into contrivance and convenience. Expect readers to have much to discuss with a provocative and divisive conclusion that may frustrate those who prefer a tidy resolution. While all characters are assumed white, Brynn is a lesbian, and a secondary character is fat-positive and pansexual.
A page-turner for sure, but this meta romp teeters into preciousness. (Mystery. 14-adult)