This is another teen stand-alone book by Kelley Armstrong. I did not even know it existed until I found it at a used book store in town for super cheap. And we all know how much I love me some Kelley Armstrong!
Winter Crane lives in a small community named Reeves End in Kentucky, a dead end town where people flee the second they graduate high school. The town is surrounded by old abandoned mines and bush, the population is small and very poor, and the bush has a pack of dangerous feral dogs. Winter lives in a trailer with her abusive, alcoholic father, and frequently sleeps in an abandoned cabin in the woods. Her sister, Cadence, left town right out of high school and no one has heard from her since.
One day Winter is trying to avoid the feral dogs when she stumbles across a young man in a tree, hurt and unconscious. She helps him, brings him to her cabin, and cleans and mends his wounds. Lennon Bishop is not a bush boy at all, but a cute, charming, charismatic guy with mediocre hunting skills and no idea how he got into that tree or why he looks like he just got his ass kicked.
Lennon tells her he is in town to find Edie; a friend of Winter’s who left town for bigger and better things, only no one has heard from her in a while either. Could she be missing? As Lennon tries to figure out what happened to him, someone attacks the cabin. Lennon knows he has brought this person into Winter’s life, just not exactly how or why. Lennon himself disappears after telling Winter he is going to fix everything.
While Winter searches for answers, Lennon’s brother Jude shows up looking for him. Jude is not so charismatic, but he sheds a little more light into Lennon, his lifestyle, and muddies the water as to why Lennon might have disappeared.
Winter starts to look into the other kids who have left Reeve’s End, seeing if anyone has heard from them or if they appear to be missing as well. While investigating she finds the body of a local boy who was supposed to have left town. Does his body relate to her sister’s disappearance, or Edie’s, or even Lennon’s?
I really enjoy Armstrong’s books. They are always an easy, fast pace read with a lot of mystery and action. She tackles division of classes, and the privileges that come with money. She is great at writing meet cute stories, and this is one of the few books of hers where I did not guess who the big baddy was.
I like that Armstrong seems to have embraced the mystery writing without the supernatural element. Werewolves and vampires seem to be over, it was fun while it lasted, but I for one am glad to see more interesting stories coming out. The only downside is if the big bad are not supernatural, it has to be something else. In this case, the scary element in the woods is a feral pack of dogs. There is some animal violence, which was a little hard for me to read, and I could have done without in the story. For some reason it is always easier to read about people getting stabbed than animals. Still, the story was good, the pace fast, just enough action and danger, and a neat and tidy ending. What more could you ask for!?