This review is going to be such a bummer, because I was so freaking pumped for this and love this author's previous books.
This is a reaction review. Given my conflicting and confused thoughts on this novel, I highly recommend checking out the official listings for a more concise summary. Normally I do those myself for these reviews, but I don't think I could do it justice here given my confusion.
Teeth in the Mist was a book that I was very excited to read. We've got 3 different timelines of women all tied to this ancient mill house in the remote UK (England? Scotland? Unclear.) There's a demonic angle, and in amazing Kurtagich style there were a bunch of documents and stylistic text choices throughout.
For example, the modern girl's narrative takes place almost exclusively through journal entries and camera transcripts. The 1800s timeline takes place in traditional 3rd person narration, and the oldest timeline takes place as very small diary entries.
But this was a mess for me.
For the first third, I was completely, utterly, 100% confused. And that was okay! I kept going, because I trusted that the story would become more clear as we went on.
It did, and it didn't.
Aside from complete confusion for the entire reading experience—and not the good kind, the frustrating "why are you giving me nothing" kind—I was also continually frustrated with the way that these three timelines were portrayed, and the lack of world building and character development used in each of them. This was a HUGE case of telling, not showing, and what we were told varied by the minute and was almost useless in most cases.
I just can't emphasize enough how much this book relied on telling, not showing. In particular, there is one element of the story that is obvious from the start (which wasn't a problem!) and then in the context of plot progression that trope completely goes off the rails. Please see my Goodreads review to view that spoiler.
On top of the spoiler above, it was just... why? The entire time I was reading the second half of this book—when it became clear where we were going with the three plot lines—I kept thinking, there must be more. Otherwise, why? Where is the payoff? Where is the satisfying "Ah, this is why I slogged through this" ending? It just... didn't satisfy. And it wasn't necessary to have three timelines, so I was frustrated by that element as well.
As you can tell, I'm pretty heated on the topic. Please take my opinions as their own, and not a reflection on anyone else's reading experience. This was a 400 page book of ?!?!?!, and it ended that way. But I still love this author, and I stand by Dead House, her previous book. Looking forward to the next one.
So this had some killer punches...including one VERY memorable one at the end. But that doesn’t quite make up for the dead weight.
Pacing: ★★ 1/2
One of Us is Next is the sequel to McManus' explosive debut novel, One of Us is Lying. While technically you could read this one by itself, the amount of references to the first book are numerous enough that I would encourage readers to pick up the first one, well, first.
I was EXTREMELY excited for this sequel. I loved, loved, LOVED One of Us is Lying, and I enjoyed her follow-up mystery/thriller, Two Can Keep a Secret.
But I didn't love this one.
We follow a new cast of characters at Bayview High School, including Maeve (Bronwyn's younger sister, who hacked the gossip site in the first novel), Knox (Maeve's best friend and ex-boyfriend), and Phoebe (a popular-ish twin with an interesting family life).
Maeve, Knox, and Phoebe find themselves at the heart of a twisted game of Truth or Dare when a new faceless gossip monger begins a texting alert with the student body.
Let's play a game - truth or dare?
With Simon's death fresh on their minds, the students of Bayview High are intrigued—but not intimidated—by the new faceless dealer. But then Phoebe doesn't respond to her Truth or Dare request, and the dealer reveals a secret that's way too cutting to be fun...
Uh oh, here we go again.
How well do you know your classmates?
One of Us is Next didn't hit the mark for me, most likely because it was a lesser aftershock of the debut. Too many references, too many reflections, and then the "game" of gossip—in this case, Truth or Dare—was executed with less suspense, less intensity, and less intrigue than One of Us is Lying. I feel bad comparing the two so intensely, but the book itself does so with its continual references to the events of the previous book. If this novel had reflected less, my memory of it might have been softer and I would probably have rated this higher. But if you're going to throw the comparisons in my face, I'm going to...compare them. And this one just doesn't hold up.
Also, the pacing was really tough. For the first half, I found myself slogging through it, waiting for the author's characteristic intrigue and intensity to kick in. It took a longgg time. I LOVED the final reveal, but the last 70 pages doesn't make up for the fact that the first half was mind-numbing.
We all know the story: The mansion. The colorful guests. The murder. The secret passageways. The weapons.
Mr. Boddy was murdered in the lounge with the candlestick. Or was it the wrench? Or maybe the revolver?
(In the case of In the Hall with the Knife, I bet you can guess.)
I honestly didn't know what to expect when this ARC arrived at my doorstep. I was in love with Clue as a kid (the movie AND the game) and I knew that I'd like it, at the very least. I didn't expect to love it and read it in one sitting!
In the Hall with the Knife is the perfect read for a casual fall evening. It's fast-paced, the coastal Maine spooky academy was the perfect setting, and the teenage characters were all fun to read in individual POVs. There are some changes to the main script: we have an added POV in Orchid McKee, and Mrs. White was an adult, but I didn't mind these changes—and in a weird way, I really enjoyed Orchid's entrance.
In terms of POV switching, I thought the author did a really good job at conveying each character's individual narrative voice. Even if you'd removed the names in the chapter, I would have known who was narrating—that's impressive, given the large cast list. However, hands down, I loved Peacock's entries the best. Everyone else has traditional chapters with third person narration...and then there's Peacock, who is obsessed with fitness and has her POV done within the context of a 1 page workout journal entry with a "notes" field that spills matter-of-fact details about the actual plot. Loved it.
Now, definitely keep in mind that this novel doesn't take itself seriously. Heck, the Clue movie notoriously didn't take itself seriously! The ending isn't a surprise to the discerning reader, but that's not why I loved it. I loved it for the cheese, the camp, and the modern twists on the old nods to nostalgia. It's a fun ride, and even more fun when you realize that it's actually a trilogy.
We haven't heard the last of this group, and so far there's only been one dead body...
(claps hands in excitement)
Thank you so much to Amulet Books for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.