Welcome back to The Bookish Context! Today is my very first time participating in a Blog Tour, for which I will be reviewing Wicked Little Deeds by Kat Ellis, a splendidly creepy YA thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat with nerve-wracking excitement!
I would like to thank Dave @The_WriteReads for allowing me to take part in this Blog Tour, and to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review, all opinions expressed here are my own.
Synopsis and Book Details
Length: 400 Pages
Publishing: 5th August 2021
From its creepy town mascot to the story of its cursed waterfall, Burden Falls is a small town dripping with superstition. Ava Thorn knows this well – since the horrific accident she witnessed a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares.
But when her school nemesis is brutally murdered and Ava is the primary suspect, she starts to wonder if the legends surrounding the town are more fact than fiction.
Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose, and they have a vendetta against the Thorns…
Death, Hallucinations, Drugs, Grief, Gore
First you see her, then you die.Wicked Little Deeds, Kat Ellis
Atmosphere and Writing Style
As my introduction to the author, it will not be an understatement to say that this novel had a lasting impression on me. Even though I enjoy thrillers, horror is not a genre I normally turn to. However, the Wicked Little Deeds seamlessly blends paranormal elements with suspenseful storytelling leaving the reader anticipating more.
‘I think it was just the tail end of a nightmare.’ One that followed me into the waking world.
From the outset, the aspect of this novel that hooked me was the evocative writing style. It was able to manifest a vivid portrait of the tragedy shrouding Burden Falls and deliver a lifelike reflection of the circumstances that have befallen the Thorn Manor and its owners. It skillfully creates a sense of mystery and foreboding!
I think it would be extremely arrogant to assume that something isn’t real when so many people claim to have seen it, simply because I haven’t.
The supernatural is reinforced through descriptions of the chilling quality in the mist surrounding the waterfall, reminiscing the metallic scent of sour apples in the dense orchards, the ominous recurring appearance of evil eye carvings around town, or the curse associated with the Bloody Thorns. The horror lies not so much in jump scares but in making its insidious way into the most mundane situations, until one finds it impossible to distinguish between what is reality and fiction.
Plot and Themes
If the clues sprinkled in throughout the progression of the plot are paid close attention to, one can catch onto the solution of the puzzle readily enough. The author successfully brings the story to a full circle. Apart from a somewhat slow start, once we are suitably transported into the rumour infested small town linked to Dead-Eyed Sadie, the plot picks up its pace and at no moment is the mystique lacking.
Noteworthy themes include the rather poetical interpretation of our perception of spectres, in seeing them as guardians watching over us as opposed to malevolent spirits out for revenge, their depiction is unsettling in both cases, to be honest!
I see them more as . . . scars.’ ‘Scars?’ ‘Hmm . . . like a mark left on a place by some traumatic event. And maybe they only become visible when that same kind of trauma-energy occurs in the same spot.’
The complex nature of both friendship and enmity delineated through the narrative, makes us ponder upon our personal beliefs and practices in conjunction with these concepts. How these relationships evolve over time or concerning the individuals involved is often contradictory to our assumptions.
when you’re in a relationship with someone, you bring out something no one else can. Sometimes that can be good….‘And sometimes,’….‘two people bring out the worst in each other.’
Characters and Relationships
Narrated exclusively from the perspective of the ‘poster girl for goth chic‘, Ava Thorn, we follow the story of a young girl grappling with grief as her world turns upside down. Her acute sense of loss and creative outlet to process these feelings make her a relatable character.
Seems like bad things happen to people who argue with you, Ava
Even in the direst of circumstances, her ironic humour serves to lift the tension. As is true of any well-rounded character she is not without flaws, prone to trust her instincts a little too much and ‘quick to judge‘. However, her determination to never let herself be undermined give her a unique strength.
Her character arc is marked by the crushing of previously held notions through each discovery she makes. Along with Ava, we become privy to the full picture rather than the skewed viewpoint as a result of a first-person narrative, but this stylistic choice makes those scenes all the more heartbreaking and impactful.
I was not expecting any romance going into the book, so its eventual development felt like a bonus to an already intriguing turn of events.
In conclusion, I believe the biggest compliment an author can pay to any genre is by inciting within a reader not only a desire to explore more of their works, but also an appreciation of the genre as a whole (especially for one which had hitherto been avoided by the reader), and Ellis was able to achieve just that with Wicked Little Deeds.
About the Author
Kat Ellis is a young adult author whose novels include Wicked Little Deeds/Burden Falls (August 2021), Harrow Lake (July 2020), Purge (September 2016), Breaker (May 2016), and Blackfin Sky (May 2014). She is a fan of all things horror and sci-fi, and a keen explorer of ruins, castles and cemeteries – all of which are plentiful in North Wales, where Kat lives with her husband. You can find out more about Kat here or connect with her on social media.
Did I convince you to pick up Wicked Little Deeds?
Have you read any other book by Kat Ellis?
What are some of your favourite thrillers with elements of horror?
Feel free to chat with me in the comments below!!