Book Review: The Dead and the Dark

Synopsis from Goodreads: The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer.

Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

A creepy, atmospheric story of a town where things are very wrong. On the surface, this book is a thriller/horror/suspense novel but underneath, it’s so much more.

I honestly wasn’t sure I would even finish this book, based on brief blurbs I had read about it but it was my book of the month club book and it neatly fit into a challenge prompt, so I decided to give it a go and I am SO glad I did. Logan Ortiz-Woodley and her two dads arrive in Snakebite to look for paranormal activity. Her dads are the co-hosts of a popular TV reality show, so it seems to make sense on the surface but Logan finds out there is a lot more going on in Snakebite than “just ghosts.” When they arrive, a local teen has gone missing and his girlfriend, Ashley, who is the archetypical popular blonde teenager, has felt his presence following her around. Logan and Ashley, while an unlikely team, pair up to try to figure out what’s going on, and the stakes are made even more intense when another teen, and then another one are found dead. Logan also finds out that both of her dads grew up in Snakebite, and as their history is revealed, Logan begins to wonder if one of her dads might be responsible.

That is the spooky paranormal portion of this book, but it’s also about a lot more than ghosts and missing teens (as if those aren’t enough!). This book also breaks out of the typical by including a slow-building romance between Logan and Ashley, and looks at topics like why the things that we keep hidden are so toxic, and what the meaning of home really is. I loved the fact that this book made me think about all of those things, and the author’s character development really had me cheering for Logan and Ashley (and sad for them and their dads that there is still so much hate in the world sometimes.) The foreboding atmosphere of Snakebite and the eerie descriptions of the woods around town, the dark lake and the graveyards contribute to the overall feeling of suspense and danger lurking for the characters.

While this is this author’s debut novel, she has another one in the works, and I will definitely look for that one when it comes out. A really well-written story that has multiple layers beyond the spooky and creepy bits, and one that’s definitely worth a read!

This is book 11/24 for the Fall Into Reading Challenge for the thriller/horror prompt, and book 1/2 for this month’s Completely Melanie challenge (for a spooky book).

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