Thursday, November 1, 2018

Book Review: Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black


Media Type: Ebook
Title: Girl at the Grave
Author: Teri Bailey Black
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: Hardcover; 336
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Source: FFBC Tours / Publisher
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Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy slow moving, but well executed mixes of historical fiction and fantasy.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother's legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.

Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.

Where to start with thoughts on Girl at the Grave? It might seem a little macabre, but I definitely picked this book up because of the promised blend of murder and romance. When those two things are well combined in a historical fiction novel, that's my perfect storm. I hoped for a dark and atmospheric story line, since Valentine's past was so riddled with mystery. For the most part, I was definitely given what I hoped for! I just had a few qualms, and I'll outline them below.

Before I say anything else, I should disclose that I am not a fan of love triangles. That's not to say that I don't think they're occasionally necessary for story movement, or acknowledge that others out there love them. It's simply my own personal preference that characters don't beat around the bush when it comes to love interests. So, take my opinions on the romance portion of this book with a grain of salt.

For the most part, I loved everything about our characters. Black does a superb job of fleshing out each one them, and making them feel as realistic as possible. They have real human emotions and, equally valid, evoked the same emotions in me while I read. Valentine's whole persona had me enraptured, and I honestly felt like she did a lot of growing as the story went on. Character growth, for the win! Which is why I was so annoyed by the whole whole love triangle aspect of her romantic life. It was pretty obvious to me who she would end up with, so it felt unnecessary and bogged down the story line. Again though, that's just me. You might love it!

While the plot here is admittedly slow moving, sometimes to a frustrating degree, I can say that it definitely allows the Gothic atmosphere to shine. It weaves an eerie aura around Valentine and her two love interests, and creates ample opportunity for what felt like realistic conversations between them. I would have loved a little more forward movement, but I can't fault the story for what it accomplished. This book is heavy on the tension, and that is enticing in itself. In fact, depending on what you tend to pick up books for, this story might actually appeal to a lot of historical fiction readers out there. The setting is vivid, and the characters are too. If only the plot had picked up a bit, it would have been perfection for me.

Overall, this was a really solid read. I enjoyed my time spent with Valentine, and unraveling the secrets of her past. I loved the atmosphere that Black created, and the character development that she so expertly executed. I give this story a solid three stars, and I'd definitely recommend it.



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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

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