By Avery Bishop
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Print Length: 411 pages
Release Year: 2020
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.06
Available on Amazon
They say everything is fun and games until someone gets hurt. Well, someone did—and now the game has changed…
Emily Bennett works as a therapist in Pennsylvania, helping children overcome their troubled pasts—even as she struggles to forget her own. Once upon a time, Emily was part of a middle school clique called the Harpies—six popular girls who bullied the new girl to her breaking point.
The Harpies took a blood oath: never tell a soul what they did to Grace Farmer.
Now, fourteen years later, it seems karma has caught up to them when one member of that vicious circle commits suicide. But when a second Harpy is discovered dead shortly after, also from apparent suicide, the deaths start to look suspicious. And when Emily starts seeing a woman who looks a lot like Grace Farmer lurking in the shadows, she’s forced to wonder: Is Grace back for revenge? Or is Emily’s guilt driving her mad?
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but the Harpies are about to find out just how much words can hurt you. (Goodreads)
I don’t often read thriller because the ones I have read this far have been guilty of a writing faux-pas (in my opinion). I absolutely hate it when the final twist is revealed at the very end of the book, as in the final chapter. At least give me a few chapters to watch things unfold, and please, please, have the final twist make sense. It’s frustrating when the book spends so much time setting up possibilities only for the reality to come out of the far left field. (Think Arya killing the Night King in the final season of Game of Thrones.) In saying all this, I’m glad to say, that even if this book sort of did that, it did it in a way that made sense. This book was good. I couldn’t put it down.
I appreciate that the protagonist was a pretty reliable narrator and a pretty smart narrator. While reading it was refreshing to come to important realizations at the same time she did or only shortly before. The characters, while some terrifying, were all relatable in some way. This book definitely plays on many victim’s dreams of vengeance on their bullies while showing that people are able to change. At the same time, it shows that who you truly are can come to light under the right circumstances. And with subtle character development peppered throughout the book, details that at the time seemed like throwaway lines for setting the tone actually turned out to be hinting that culminates into this powerful realization.
Honestly, this book deserves five stars, but I reserve that rating for books I love so much I can reread them. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, at the end of the day I don’t feel like I can read it again. Not because of the whole “well, I already know what’s going to happen” reasoning, but because this was a stressful read. Stressful in a way that I would compare to Gone Girl. Phenomenal, well worth it read, but something that can only be experienced once.