Saturday 25 June 2022

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Review: Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow {#Ad)

A photo of a Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow proof on a Progress Pride flag over the POC chevron, which is at a diagonal, so the chevron is pointing to the bottom right, On top of the proof, on it's right side, is a postcard of the book's final cover - which is different to the proof cover - on a diagonal, top right, to bottom left. There is a rainbow pin on the top left of the proof, and around the book is a white shell, a shiva shell heart, and a small jar of sand and tiny shells.

I was sent this proof for free by Hot Key Books for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Links with an asterisk (*) are Ad: Affiliate Links, which means if you make a purchase through them, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow

Published: 28th June 2022 | Publisher: Hot Key Books | Source:
Rebecca Barrow’s Website

With compelling characters, broken friendships and complicated romances, Bad Things Happen Here is the irresistible YA murder mystery thriller: it makes your heart race, your toes curl, and your mind whirl with deadly secrets, dark truths and the innate need to escape a poisonous paradise.

The island of Parris: paradise or poison?

Luca Laine Thomas lives in Parris, the beautiful island plagued by the unsolved deaths of young women - most significantly, Luca's best friend. All Luca wants is to heal from the traumatic loss and leave her feelings of guilt and helplessness behind.

Then Luca comes home to find the police at her house. Her sister, Whitney, is dead.

Luca and Naomi, the new girl next door, decide to take the investigation into their own hands, and along the way their connection deepens. Soon, their casual touches and innocent flirtations become something way more real. But finding out what happened on the night of Whitney's disappearance reveals lie upon lie.

Nothing is as it seems. Will Luca's search finally reveal truth about her sister's murder? And will she unravel and escape the clutches of the curse and survive Parris?
From The StoryGraph.

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Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow was one of my most highly anticipated novels of 2022, and I've been so excited to read it! But while it was an interesting story, I found that I didn't really enjoy it overall.

Luca lives in Parris, a idyllic island, where the weather is always gorgeous, and the people wealthy. It should be a beautiful place to live, but Parris' has it's darkness. She has been haunted by the death of her best friend Polly four years ago. It was written off as an accident, but Luca knows there was more to it than that, and struggles with the fact that it wasn't properly investigated. Just like the deaths of other girls in Parris'. There has always been a morbid joke that the island is cursed, but Luca has always thought that it might be true. It hurts even more when, after four years, people move into Polly's house, but Luca is somewhat distracted by her pain by Naomi, the daughter of the family moving in. Luca can't stop thinking about her, but soon it's not quite distraction enough when her older sister Whitney is murdered. Weighed down by even more grief, Luca's belief in the curse is strengthened, and she's determined to figure out what happened to Whitney, not just for closure, but so she knows what not to do, to stop the curse coming from her.

I found it really interesting what Bad Things Happen Here has to say about the interest in true crime. It doesn't take long before Whitney's murder becomes the thing people gossip about. Luca and Whitney were extremely close, but as things are revealed that Whitney kept from her, and others hear about it, the gossip begins. There's a horrifying excitement as others talk about Whitney and her murder, and it's pretty disgusting. It becomes more obvious when Luca is briefly considered a suspect, and the talk switches to her. It's odd, because the island is relatively small, everyone knows everyone, but still there's this thrill from it all. It's just awful; I kept thinking, "This is someone you know! And she didn't just die, she was killed! How can you talk like this?!" It really made me uncomfortable.

Barrow also takes a look at privilege that was really fascinating. It looks at privilege in general, and how privilege breeds discrimination against those who don't tick the right boxes, even if they pretend like they're not prejudiced. Luca is Black, fat, and has a mental illness, and sees very clearly who she must be to avoid judgement. But it also looks at the privilege of those who have money, and the entitlement that comes with it. When you have the money to get anything you want, you start to believe that you deserve anything you want, and people should do - or not do - things you demand. It's all quite subtle, but it's really obvious, and it's actually quite shocking.

However, I just wasn't really a fan of the story as a whole. I didn't really understand Luca's fixation with the curse; this is a thriller, not a fantasy, so I didn't really understand the purpose of it. At first I thought it might be related to her mental health, but both seem to be almost separated as the story continues, and so I didn't really get it. There's also the fact that I thought Bad Things Happen Here was really slow. It's a very quick read, and you fly through it quite easily, but for all that, I expected more to happen. I just didn't feel there was the right vibe for a thriller, I was never on the edge of my seat, and I just honestly couldn't get behind Luca's theories. It didn't seem to take very much for Luca to suspect someone. Time moves quite quickly, weeks go by in a matter of pages, so it was also difficult to feel the romance, because Luca and Naomi seemed to get close very quickly, and we never really got to see their relationship develop. And I just didn't like Luca; she doesn't treat people very well, she's impulsive and makes silly decisions and mistakes, and I just didn't warm to her. But that in and of itself isn't a problem; I'm not someone who has a problem with unlikable characters. But with everything else, there wasn't much I liked about it.

I wasn't completely surprised by the reveal, but I was surprised by the ending. I didn't expect it at all. Initially, I was really annoyed by it; it's not the conclusion I wanted. But it's actually quite a clever ending, and makes sense alongside what Bad Things Happen Here has to say. It's a little look at fiction versus real life; what you, as a reader, want, and what is actually realistic. It's a fascinating and thoughtprovoking ending, as is the story as a whole. But I can't say it was a book I enjoyed reading.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for the proof.

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