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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Review: Envy by Gregg Olsen

Brilliant YA crime thriller with supernatural overtones

The first book in the promising Empty Coffin series, this introduces the Ryan twins. Teen daughters of a true crime writer, with an intriguing backstory and psychic abilities that they guard as a precious secret, Hayley and Taylor are driven to investigate when a neighbour girl is found dead in her bathtub.

I hadn't read any of Gregg Olsen's writing before (this is his first YA novel, but his background is crime fiction and true crime for adults), but I really enjoyed his style and am keen to keep reading this series and to investigate his adult fare. The book has a cinematic feel to it, with scene changes feeling very much like camera cuts. The novel is related in the third person and in the past tense, allowing Gregg Olsen to shift perspectives with ease and to show us what different characters are feeling, as well as offering some of the town's backstory.

The twins as central characters are engaging and sympathetic. As the novel progresses, we learn more of their fascinating history (with, I'm sure, plenty left to come in future instalments) and their abilities. They don't seem to describe themselves as 'psychic' as such, and their gifts are revealed to us gradually, becoming more important as the plot develops.

Plot-wise, there is much here for fans of crime mysteries and thrillers. The novel is tightly-plotted and offers plenty of twists and red herrings. The murder-or-suicide death at the centre is suitably tragic and will give teen readers plenty to think about. Themes of bullying, popularity and the natural life cycle of children's and teens' friendships are at the core of the book, ensuring emotional recognition for all readers.

Overall, I'm absolutely recommending this for lovers of crime fiction, especially if you also enjoy a hint of the supernatural.

From the Back Cover:

Evil comes in all sorts of flavours. Some bitter. Some deceptively sweet. That's what Katelyn discovers on the day she dies. Was it suicide? Murder? Who's to blame?

Twins Hayley and Taylor Ryan stumble upon the disturbing truth, which sheds light on another secret, a hidden past even they didn't know about.

Inspired by a ripped-from-the-headlines true crime, Envy is the gritty first volume in a new bone-chilling series that takes you to the edge - and pushes you right over.

**********************************
Published September 2012 by Splinter
For more info, visit the series website
My grateful thanks go to the publishers for providing a review copy

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