The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould (2021) Review

Sapphic love & ghosts. Need I say more?

Why I picked up the book:

 We follow Logan and her dads, TV ghost hunters Brandon and Alejo, as they arrive in the couple’s hometown of Snakebite. They soon realize that there’s something wrong going on as teenagers mysteriously disappear, some even turning up dead. Then we meet Ashley, a local teenager whose boyfriend’s ghost has been following her since he went missing. Looking for answers and hoping to end the disappearances, Logan and Ashley team up to investigate whatever is haunting the town. 

The book through my criteria lens:

Macmillan Audio has done it again! And Soneela Nankani’s narration was everything this book deserved. Her pace was fantastic; she brought the characters to life and made it easy for me to follow along. I was never confused as to what was going on.

The highlight of The Dead and the Dark for me was the enthralling plot and the engrossing character work. I could honestly close my eyes and imagine each character as a real person (for better or worse). The use of horror as a proxy to social commentary was really well done. I finished the book reflecting on how scary real life can be!

The execution was solid, in my opinion, but I wish the atmosphere had been just slightly scarier. Maybe because I was so consumed with the characters, I wasn’t scared, and I wish I had been. I still think this is a beautiful novel, though, and I am delighted I read it. I’ll carry Brandon with me for a long time.

My personal feelings:

Pain – this summons the book up to me. This book is dark and scary. Although the horror fan in me was delighted with the supernatural undertones of The Dead and the Dark, the most frightening thing about this book is how well it represents real life in the issues dealt with, such as queerness, prejudice, grief, loss. I don’t know how to talk about this book without spoiling it, as its fluidity and the order we are introduced to incidents were such a big part of my experience. I will say this: how much I related to Brandon was borderline unhealthy. His arc was the best thing about the novel to me.

I lie; there are many things I loved in this novel, and arrrghhhh it’s hard to talk about it without spoilers, but hear me out and bear with my vagueness. The Dark was used as an analogy and what it represents, HOW it represents it, was so beautiful and enthralling. Snakebite, unfortunately, is not just a fictional town with made-up people – it’s a petri dish that under the microscope exposes the worst in humankind and the world. I wish I could say I don’t see people like that more often than I’d like. The queer relationships in this book are everything. For one, Brandon and Alejo have a healthier and stronger relationship with each other than most hetero couples I know. They are also excellent parents. The last thing I will mention in the “reasons to love this book” list is that Gould’s story is organic and reads naturally. She didn’t hesitate (or maybe she did?) to make difficult choices. The result paid off, in my opinion.

Enjoyability     8

Characters       10

Ambience        8

Fairness          8

Plot                  10

Execution        8

My total rating: 4.33

Review for this book is mentioned in this video: https://youtu.be/3Q2kNdkr-hQ

BOOK SNAPSHOT:

Until next book, be the hummingbird!

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