Published: October 2013
Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.
A new psychological thriller from the award-winning and bestselling author of STOLEN and FLYAWAY.
I will admit, I was worried about this one for a while there. For maybe the first third of the book, I really struggled to connect with Emily or Damon, and because of that, I had a hard time feeling invested in the story. I also didn't feel that Ashlee was a particularly likeable character, so I didn't feel very affected by her death or curious about what happened to her. I think this bothered me more than it otherwise might have because I had such the oppposite experience with Stolen. When I read Stolen, I fell in love with the characters in spite of myself. Here, I went into the book wanting to care about Emily and Damon and I just couldn't. So it's possible that my expectations going into this book skewed my initial perception somewhat. This is a very different book from Stolen.
However! Somewhere just after the first third of the book, the story pulled me in and I found myself connecting to Emily and Damon much more, especially Emily. I really admired how gracefully Emily handled her near total isolation - her mother has pulled away from her and climbed into a bottle, she doesn't have any siblings to lean on, and most of her former friends at school have ostracized her since Ashlee's murder. Through it all Emily remains clearheaded and focused. She never seems to let her emotions get the best of her.
By this point in the story, Damon and Ashlee's relationship had also been fleshed out a bit more, and while I still didn't feel much of a connection to Ashlee, I started to care about what had happened to her because of how her death was affecting Damon. I was also desperate to find out more about The Game, which seriously creeped me out from the first time it was mentioned.
The remainder of the book was well-paced and a tense read. Some darker information starts to emerge about just what went on the night Ashlee died, and I found myself desperate to find out exactly what happened to her and why. I will say that I guessed the identity of the killer early on, but it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the story because I was much more concerned with the reason for the murder.
All in all, I would say this is a solid read. It was a slow starter for me, but I'm glad I stuck with it because the payoff was well worth it. I will definitely be reading whatever Lucy Christopher writes next.
Image taken from GoodReads