Book, Beast, and Crow

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Mar. 2024. 368p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062484789.
Gr 7 Up–Some small towns have secrets that reach far back into their pasts. In Hartwood, NJ, Anna and her friend Olivia know of only the most unique. At the center of town, “The Wall” surrounds a swamp where an urban-legend-like beast lives, who is responsible for people disappearing occasionally. To appease it, offerings are left outside on the “Waltar.” Despite all this, both girls assume it will be a typical senior year in high school. However, when the Beast causes a bus crash, and drags Olivia into the woods, nothing will ever be the same again. Supernatural forces have been aligning since colonial times, and these two girls’ futures are intertwined with all that will soon occur. This story wants to set itself up as a wonderful supernatural suspense tale for young adults. While Byrne is able to blend various genres of fiction, the book seems to have too many ideas going to give real depth to all but a few plotlines. The characters are central to the story, but tend to not have any memorable distinguishing features other than their names. Readers may also find the foreshadowing to be very obvious, even from the first chapter. Where it does succeed is in the friendship and camaraderie of the main characters. The last quarter of the book increases the pace and puts the story all together, leading to a satisfying, if predictable, ending.
VERDICT A good starter suspense tale for middle schoolers, but older or more experienced mystery readers may find it lacking in depth.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing