My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is Fleur Ferris‘s second novel and it is fantastic. Ebony Marshall has been touched by tragedy in her life, losing both her best friend and boyfriend to accidents. Some in Dainsfield think she is cursed, and her nickname, Black, makes her a target for some people who believe she is dangerous. When her latest boyfriend, Aiden, has an unfortunate accident after the formal and ends up in a coma, things take a sinister turn. Family secrets are revealed and Black finds herself caught up in stuff that only belongs in a horror movie. Mystery, suspense, romance, a little bit of horror and violence, and characters you really care about are the features of this book.
Black is feisty and fierce (not in a cliched way) and smart too. Nice to see a girl interested in science as the central character for a change. Ed, the lab technician at the water plant where Black works, (and which her Dad runs) is a fantastic character and a wonderful confidente for Black as she navigates the peaks and troughs of her life in Dainsfield.
As with Ferris’s first YA novel, Risk, the voices of the characters ring true. There is some really authentic sounding dialogue between the kids and between the adults too. This is certainly one of the great strengths of her writing. The other thing Ferris excels in is setting. Dainsfield feels real, especially the forest Black must traverse when inspecting the dams as part of her job. It felt cold, isolated and a little bit creepy as she made her way through it.
I also liked the resolution of the book. There was a real sense of danger and urgency as event played out and like Risk, the ends were tied up, but not neatly. There were enough frayed edges on the ribbon to make it feel like something that could happen in real life.
Highly recommended for ages 13 and up.