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. Courtney Gould’s thrilling debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places—and people—you didn’t expect.
I mean, this book had me at ghost hunting lesbians. Really, it had me from the second I knew it was queer. Add ghosts to the mix, and I was basically chomping at the bit to read this book. And even on top of that, this book is about secrets in a small town, cheesy ghost hunting shows, missing teenagers, and it’s f/f enemies-to-lovers! Trigger warnings: homophobia, child death, murder, claustrophobia (buried alive), drowning, slurs
Oh, wow. Oh. Wow.
This book is everything that it was promised it to be. It dug its way into me and made itself quite at home inside my heart (lots of screaming going on inside my heart due to this book). It’s a swirling mass of love and secrets and queerness and emotions and pain and hate and love and ghosts and friendship and family. And it’s so, so good.
I usually have a hard time with ghost stories and small town stories (and now I’m realizing that it makes it very weird that I was so excited for this book haha), but this one hit every single nail on its head. Seriously, those nails are completely knocked out. Ghost stories usually focus too much on the creepy and leave the characters behind too much for my liking. NOT HERE I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS WITH MY WHOLE ENTIRE HEART. And small town stories are usually wrapped up in so much pain that its a bit overwhelming for me. WELL THIS ONE IS CERTAINLY WRAPPED UP IN A LOT OF PAIN BUT WOW I LOVED IT AND IT WAS WRITTEN VERY WELL. See? A lot of screaming about this book going on inside my heart, and now here.
Gosh, at the heart of this book is the feeling of being left behind. Of loneliness. Of pain. Of not fitting in. Of hate consuming. Of the secrets a small town is capable of holding. And the way it’s presented is just, incredibly striking. It’s a ghost story. But it’s also a love story. A family story. A story about the secrets hidden between generations. A murder mystery. It manages to be so much, all in one book. And the way it is crafted it just downright brilliant. It twists and it turns, but it also left me breathless with emotion. It made me feel for Ashley and Logan and Brandon and Alejo and Bug and Gus and Fran and every character who wasn’t a jerk. It does so much so well and it never feels like one point is being sacrificed for another. Emotion and pain is so tied up into the murder and the ghosts that it’s not possible to separate them. One is the other, and that is what makes this book so brilliant. Also the fact that Gould is a brilliant storyteller!
So, I basically touched on everything in that above paragraph, but I do want to touch on more specifics here and there. Characters! Yes! I loved them so much! Logan is jaded and snarky, and wow was I intimidated by her but I also think I would fall completely in love with her if I ever saw her in real life. Ashely was sweeter, but still rough around the edges. I also really, really loved Logan’s dads more than I thought I would! Plus, there were some pretty amazing side characters as well.
Ugh, I just love this book so much. There’s GHOSTS. And it’s so freaking queer. And it deals with the hate that this small town harbors and the pain that comes along with it. It’s creepy and terrifying, but it also deals with such real emotion. There’s so much love underneath everything as well, and ah, it’s so good.
So yes, if you would like a queer, emotional, amazing ghost murder story, then this is definitely the book for you! There’s secrets and lakes and rundown cabins in the woods and ghost hunting shows! I know it’s obvious, but I really, really love it.