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Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

I Killed Zoe Spanos meets The Cheerleaders in this haunting mystery about an island town with a history of unsolved deaths—and a girl desperate to uncover the mystery behind it all.

Luca Laine Thomas lives on a cursed island. To the outside world, Parris is an exclusive, idyllic escape accessible only to the one percent. There’s nothing idyllic about its history, though, scattered with the unsolved deaths of young women—deaths Parris society happily ignores to maintain its polished veneer. But Luca can’t ignore them. Not when the curse that took them killed her best friend, Polly, three years ago. Not when she feels the curse lingering nearby, ready to take her next.

When Luca comes home to police cars outside her house, she knows the curse has visited once again. Except this time, it came for Whitney, her sister. Luca decides to take the investigation of Whitney’s death into her own hands. But as a shocking betrayal rocks Luca’s world, the identity Whitney’s killer isn’t the only truth Luca seeks. And by the time she finds what she’s looking for, Luca will come face to face with the curse she’s been running from her whole life.

Goodreads Summary

I was surprised by how much I liked this story. Parris, a decadent island only available to the elites of the world, was really fun to think about. I thought the world-building was really in-depth and detailed; I could practically visualize the setting in my mind and picture the characters walking around this idyllic little world. Unfortunately, this world is far from perfect. Every once in a while an unexplained death or disappearance takes place and the victim is always a young female. Luca's life has been touched twice by this "curse." First, she lost her best friend to an unusual drowning and then her sister is the victim of a sad murder. Luca resolves to discover the true cause behind these deaths even as she feels the curse coming for her. 

Luca's character was intricately written. She was flawed in her own way, but I found her one of the few "heroines" that I truly enjoyed consistently reading about. I admired her dedication to her family and friends and her determination to try to make things right for them. She has some trouble with her anxiety, depression, and self-harm/doubt thoughts, but the book doesn't fixate on her mental issues. Instead, Luca's mental health struggles are depicted more realistically and the character has developed coping mechanisms. She also enjoys a romance with the girl who moves into her best friend's old house. The romance is the light-hearted, sweet, and innocent part of the story. It felt almost untouchable even amongst the mystery and murders. 

The author managed to make the intrigue behind the so-called curse a slow reveal. There were portions that I still think about and definitely didn't guess ahead of time. I really liked the thought process that went into the plot and I'm looking forward to reading more from Rebecca Barrow in the future!

4 Stars

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  1. This one was okay for me, I'm not a big fan of third person stories. But I will definitely be sharing with my students! Great review!
    Lisa Loves Literature