Today, I’m reviewing the pulse-pounding Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow. Thank you so much to Eleanor Rose at Hot Key Books for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The island of Parris: paradise or poison? Luca Laine Thomas lives in Parris, the beautiful island plagued by the unsolved deaths of young women – most significantly, Luca’s best friend. All Luca wants is to heal from the traumatic loss and leave her feelings of guilt and helplessness behind. Then Luca comes home to find police cars in her driveway. Her sister, Whitney, is dead.
Luca and Naomi, the new girl next door, decide to take the investigation into their own hands, and along the way their connection deepens. Soon, their casual touches and innocent flirtations become something way more real. But finding out what happened on the night of Whitney’s disappearance reveals lie upon lie. Nothing is as it seems. Will Luca’s search finally reveal truth about her sister’s murder? And will she unravel and escape the clutches of the curse and survive Parris?
Publication Date: 28th June
TW: death, cheating, murder, disappearance, violence, racism, grief, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal ideation, reference to sexual violence
Bad Things Happen Here is the YA murder mystery of the summer. Barrow has created a truly intoxicating and twisted gem of a book.
This was one of those books that is just all-consuming and completely enrapturing. I absolutely flew through the pages. Right from the start, Barrow had me by the throat and never truly let me go. That opening line is one hell of a hook and ensured that my full attention was solely focused on this story. The writing style flowed so well for me, keeping me glued to the pages and transporting me to the sun-soaked island of Parris. This setting became its own character, illustrated through its delicately constructed facade of perfection and hiding its darkly destructive nature. Very often, things are not as they seem and Parris’ picture-perfect image disguises an abhorrent web of secrets and corruption.
Luca was such a fascinating protagonist, flawed and fractured by her grief but also determined to uncover the truth. Her voice was completely engaging and twinged by that deep-seated feeling of survivor’s guilt, complicated by her past and what truly happened all those years ago. The curse that drives the action was an interesting motif, interrogating our superstitions and the myth of the perfect victim. I loved how this book explored that myth, ripping it apart and revealing its innate classism, racism and sexism. Why is it only those who society deems as worthy that have even a shot at justice?
This was a really twisty and constantly engaging mystery, with shocking reveals and an impressive focus on quieter character work. A lot of the scenes are extremely emotionally charged and I loved the exploration of trauma and grief. While the stakes are always being raised, there is also always an equivalent emotional devastation lurking round the corner. Most of the twists are tied into these intimate character relationships carefully cultivated by Barrow and add new layers into your perception of events.
Bad Things Happen Here is a book that delves deep beneath the veneers of societally deemed perfection, exposing its deadly flaw, with wonderful representation and a killer mystery.