A high school senior attempts to unravel the truth behind her friend’s disappearance in Warman’s debut YA mystery, the first in a series.
Reese’s best friend, Charlotte Walters, is “stunning, smart, charismatic, everything and anything that a seventeen-year-old wished to be.” She’s a beautiful, All-State field hockey player with a 4.0 GPA and a “talent for painting,” so she gets plenty of attention from her fellow classmates. Reese, meanwhile, is known primarily as Charlotte’s sidekick—something between an assistant and a confidante. Charlotte values her for her loyalty but doesn’t realize that Reese secretly resents her big house, rich parents, and army of admirers. When Charlotte decides to throw a Halloween party with a “ghosts of dead girls” theme, Reese helps her plan it—even going so far as to get Reese’s former crush, Riley Gallagher, to procure a beer keg. Reese quickly grows tired of Charlotte’s spooky antics, though, especially when she runs down to the lake to try to hear the ghost of local urban legend “Screaming Stella.” But when Reese arrives after her, she sees a boat rowing away from shore and can’t find Charlotte anywhere. Reese quickly summons help—the cops; Riley; Charlotte’s brother, Aiden—but it’s clear that Charlotte has disappeared. Everyone expects Reese to have some insight into what happened, but maybe she doesn’t know her friend as well as she thought. Throughout this novel, Warman’s taut prose is pitched perfectly for her subject matter, managing to make the high school drama feel high-stakes and creepy by turns. For example, here’s how she portrays Reese’s wonder at Charlotte’s huge trove of gossip: “part of me felt that the source of her knowledge was deeper, more mysterious, that Charlotte Walters knew everything because she was the town, or everything that St. Clair liked to think of itself as.” The author’s sharp senses of pacing and character make this a thoroughly enjoyable read. Readers will be waiting with anticipation for future volumes.
A captivating teen mystery in a secretive lakeside town.