The Foxglove Killings by Tara Kelly
Genre: YA, Mystery
Rating: 4/5 stars
I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Gramps always said that when the crickets were quiet, something bad was coming. And the crickets have been as silent as the dead. It started with the murdered deer in the playground with the unmistakable purple of a foxglove in its mouth. But in the dying boondock town of Emerald Cove, life goes on. I work at Gramps’s diner, and the cakes―the entitled rich kids who vacation here―make our lives hell. My best friend, Alex Pace, is the one person who gets me. Only Alex has changed. He’s almost like a stranger now. I can’t figure it out…or why I’m having distinctly more-than-friend feelings for him. Ones I shouldn’t be having. Then one of the cakes disappears. When she turns up murdered, a foxglove in her mouth, a rumor goes around that Alex was the last person seen with her—and everyone but me believes it. Well, everyone except my worst enemy, Jenika Shaw. When Alex goes missing, it’s up to us to prove his innocence and uncover the true killer. But the truth will shatter everything I’ve ever known about myself — and Alex.
It’s been a while since I read a mystery novel, especially a YA one. The synopsis sounded quite intriguing to me, so I requested it from Netgalley. It took me a while to get to it though -sorry, downside of being a mood reader. I’m so grateful I requested it though, because I thought it was a really enjoyable read.
We start this story when Nova and her best friend Alex find a dead and decapitated deer. Its head was posed in a children’s playground, with a foxglove in its mouth. Although it’s a disturbing sight, and a disturbing act, no one is truly afraid yet. Until a (rich) girl goes missing after a party, and turns up dead a few weeks later. So we follow this story from Nova’s perspective.
I think this book is a mix of a contemporary coming-of-age book and a mystery novel. Both themes are prevalent here. On the one side, we have the mystery of who killed the girl. What’s going on in the town? Who’s behind all of this? And on the other hand, we have Nova trying to figure out her life. How does she feel about Alex? She’s making friends (well…), figuring out family life, works at her grandfather’s restaurant, and so on. I thought it was a great mix, although the first half leaned more towards the contemporary side while the second half was more of the mystery aspect.
I was definitely intrigued by the mystery as I did read it in the course of a few hours. And actually, I didn’t guess who the actual killer was! It took me by surprise.
The one downside to the story-line and pacing was a jump I experienced. There’s a moment before Amber disappears, when she’s talking about going to a party. And suddenly, it’s weeks later and you find out she disappeared from a conversation of some people. Or maybe I just spaced out for a while? Afterwards, you do gather what happened in those weeks thanks to people looking back on them. But I was a tad confused for a few pages.
Nova is the main character of this story. I don’t think the synopsis really does her voice justice. It sounds like a sociopath is telling a story, without any emotions. It’s not like that in the actual novel, which to me is a good thing. Nova has gone through some trouble at school -let’s just say she gets bullied by the rich kids. And Alex does as well, just because he lives in a trailer park. They have been best friends for years. I really like most aspects of Nova’s character. She’s smart, cares about her friends and family and works hard. I love that her family is so prominent in the story. I’m always happy to see a YA novel with a family actually present! And her grandpa sounds awesome. I do think that she was a bit judge-y at times, especially after her own bullying. She is bullied for a lie someone told. So you think she’d give other people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to rumors.
Alex is her best friend. He’s had a rough life too. He and his sister live with their grandma, who is mentally ill. I felt for him during this book. Some rich kids spread a rumor that Alex was last seen with Amber, the missing/dead girl, so many people think he did it. This leads to fights, vandalism and so on. But I really admired him in a way. He really tried to help his friends and family, to make a better life from what they had. Did he handle everything well? No. But he’s a teenager, what can you expect? They’re all going to make some bad decisions.
Can I just say, thank you for not completely leaving out sex in this novel. I don’t know why it’s not talked about more in YA novels! I mean: young adult. It’s quite a common think to talk about. Yet it’s not often represented. I don’t mean that you have to be explicit. I think that’s more done in the new adult genre. But you shouldn’t gloss over it!
I highly enjoyed this book. It’s a great mystery novel, and on top of that it’s a contemporary about Nova, her friends, family and love. I didn’t guess who the killer was at all, that twist took me by surprise. If you like mystery books, I’d recommend it.