Review: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas (blog tour)

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

I didn't quite know what to expect when I started reading The Darkest Corners, but what I ended up getting was one of the darkest, most intense, and engrossing YA psychological thrillers I've ever read.
Tessa was the main character and the story was told through her point of view. When she was eight years old, Tessa was at a sleep over at her best friend Callie's house when they were woken up by a strange noise outside the door. They told Callie's older cousin Lori about it, and after telling them to stay in Callie's room, she went out to investigate and that was the last time they saw Lori alive. Her body was found a day later in a wooded area near the highway. The Fayette town police believed she was a victim of the Ohio River Monster, a serial killer who preyed on young teenaged girls. Callie and Tessa testified against a man named Wyatt Stokes, who was convicted of murdering Lori as well as the other three girls believed to be the victims of the Ohio River Monster. The police thought they had found their serial killer and Stokes was sentenced to death for the murders.

Callie and Tessa's friendship did not survive what happened to them. A few months after the trial, Tessa moved away to live with her grandma in Florida. Callie and her family stayed in town, but moved to a new house. They haven't talked to each other since the trial, but neither Tessa nor Callie really got over what happened to Lori, and each found ways to cope with the traumatic memories and unanswered questions. Ten years later, after learning that her father was very sick and dying, Tessa found herself back in last place she wanted to be in. She was back in the town of Fayette and reliving old nightmares with Callie after one of their childhood friends was found dead in the same wooded area and in a similar way as Lori. With Wyatt Stokes still in prison, Tessa wondered if they helped put an innocent man in prison and the real killer might still be roaming the streets.

I was very impressed with The Darkest Corners. I knew Kara Thomas could write a twisty mystery, having read her other series previously called Prep School Confidential (my review of book 1 in the series here) written under Kara Taylor. But while the Prep School Confidential was a charming, light in tone, Nancy Drew-esque mystery read set in, you guessed it, a prep school, The Darkest Corners had the opposite vibe--a dark, intense, grim psychological mystery set in a small, bleak town.

Kara Thomas created an intriguing character in Tessa. She had a crappy childhood, growing up with a dysfunctional family, and after she found herself in the middle of a murder investigation as such a young age, she had her quirks. She understandably didn't form relationships too well with other people and her relationship with Callie was strained at best. Since we were in Tessa's point of view, we only knew what she knows and every time she uncovers a new clue, I was there trying to work it out myself and was basically reading too much into everything and being wrong pretty much every time. But I live for the curve balls and red herrings in mystery novels, and it was exciting piecing together the clues along with her and trying to solve what really happened before she does. When reveal came, though, I was taken by surprise. Holy cow, I didn't see that coming!

I have to say that the first 100 pages were pretty slow. There was a lot of backstory about what occurred ten years ago. We also delved into Tessa's family and her relationship with her dad, mom, and sister, which I didn't find as interesting mainly because I was eager for the main mystery to start already. After that, though, the story gained momentum and I couldn't stop reading, wanting to flip the pages faster. Everything does come together in the end and it was INSANE. There was also that creep factor amidst all the twists and turns, so it was a good time!

The Darkest Corners was a meticulously crafted psychological mystery that kept me guessing and so engrossed that I stayed up way too late into the night because I needed to know and just had to read one more page. It's a must-read for fans of young adult mysteries. As for me, The Darkest Corners going on my keeper shelf.

Fun Extra: There's a dedicated website for The Darkest Corners with newspaper clippings and videos about the investigation of Lori Cawley's murder, as well as an excerpt from the novel:

About the Author
Kara is the author of THE DARKEST CORNERS, coming from Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press in Spring 2016. She also wrote the Prep School Confidential series (St. Martin’s Press) and the pilot The Revengers for the CW under the pen name Kara Taylor. She’s represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media for books and United Talent Agency and Brillstein Entertainment Partners for film. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or on the couch with her rescue cat, Felix.

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