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The Telling

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Lana used to know what was real. That was before, when her life was small and quiet. Her golden stepbrother, Ben was alive. She could only dream about bonfiring with the populars. Their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell truth from lies, and Ben's childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.

Then came after.

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: love, blood, and murder.

400 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 2, 2016

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About the author

Alexandra Sirowy

3 books428 followers
Alexandra Sirowy was born and raised in Northern California. She has a graduate degree in International Studies and loves to eat, laugh, travel, read, and go on adventures. She's the author of the YA thrillers THE CREEPING, the Bram Stoker award shortlisted THE TELLING, and her latest, FIRST WE WERE IV. She lives in California with her husband and daughter. Visit her at alexandrasirowy.com.

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5 stars
168 (22%)
4 stars
245 (33%)
3 stars
234 (31%)
2 stars
72 (9%)
1 star
15 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 188 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,422 reviews77.6k followers
July 25, 2017
I’m fully aware that this might be a simple case of “not the right reader for this book”. I usually enjoy a good YA novel, especially if it’s a mystery/thriller type, but this one just seemed to lack all the suspense and thrilling notion to propel me forward. Sure, it was an easy read and it did have some parts that gripped me; overall, this wasn’t a terrible book, it just wasn’t great. This story had a major “meh” factor for me.

On paper, this book sounded necessary. That blurb hooked me immediately and I couldn’t press the request button on NetGalley fast enough. I waited in agony for MONTHS to be approved, thinking they were just waiting for the archive date to pass where it would disappear off my pending list, but I got that blessed email (you know the one; don’t pretend you don’t have a brief fist pumping moment) and knew it was my time to shine. This was going to be one of my top YA books of the year! Unfortunately, I think I put too much expectation and pressure on this one, which caused the flat feeling to fall a little harder than it might have otherwise.

I think my major issue with this book was its predictability. The characters, the “mystery”, the whole plot really was just too expected. I’ve read other reviews that state this, so I won’t harp, but early on, you have that “I think it is so and so but it can’t be because it’s too early and there have to be some red herrings so thank God I KNOW IT’S NOT THIS PERSON” moment, but in the case of this book, it is that person. What a let down. There wasn’t much suspense revolving around who did it, which for a book that heavily leans on that factor to give it credibility, was a huge downfall for me. I also felt some of the fluff could have been cut; if they had ended up cutting a good 50-75 pages it would have sped up the pacing without taking away any necessary information. I wasn’t really a fan of any of the characters, so that was a bummer as well.

There isn’t much else I can say; I felt the author was talented in her writing style, she just could have made the mystery a little more difficult and given the characters a little more depth and humanity (yes, even YA novels need this). I don’t blame her for the extra padding in the story; I feel that’s a joint effort between the editors and author. She had me hooked just enough where I would likely check out her next piece to see if any of my issues were improved in the future.

*I received my copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thankful for the opportunity!
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,239 followers
August 10, 2016
I asked him where they came from, more than once. Where did your stories start? He side-stepped. He pleaded imagination. He went silent, stood abruptly, and left me in the blanket fort. Stories have beginnings, origins. But what do they matter? They aren’t real.

Lana lived for her step-brother Ben's stories. Absolutely lived for them from the moment his mom married Lana's dad. The two would get lost in make-believe pretending they were the heroes who always defeated the villains. The stories were dark and brutal..plenty of different villains, settings, and plots. One thing remained the same..the heroes: Lana and Ben McBrook, brave and always coming out on top.
Here's a secret, though. I was hungry for the violent stories, the sheared-off body parts, the vengeful heroes, as much as any boy could have been.

Two months ago, Lana's life changed forever when Ben was brutally murdered by a man with a red painted face. The killer never found. Lana is torn up with grief unable to pick up the pieces. She struggles to cope until one day she gets up and begins to live. And this is where the book picks up. With Lana hanging with "the core" at the spring. They find the body of a girl at the bottom, Maggie Lewis: Ben's ex and the reason he was driving the night he died. The connection makes Lana a suspect, while she wonders if the man with a red painted face came back to finish off Maggie making her even more adamant at finding the true killer.

It doesn't take long for the bodies to begin piling up. And Lana seems to be reminded of the stories Ben used to tell. There's a strange connection to these murders and those stories leaving Lana wondering: what is really going on?
Her pale form stands out against the night. She has the look of a character from one of Ben’s stories. My throat tightens. She reminds me of the lily-pad maiden who was strangled by a mad king and left in a watery grave.

Here's the thing..I may have expected more out of Ben's stories. Expectations adjusted..you really only get references to these stories..not the whole "a story within a story" thing like in We Were Liars. I originally expected these tales interwoven into the plot, but that's just not the case. However, we do get a YA contemporary mystery with shades of fantasy added in that have you questioning if everything is real or not until you know the truth.
The truth is a vindictive fuck.

I wanted more out of the characters - most specifically the members of the core..mainly Carolynn (and even Becca, which I know she touched on). I wanted so much more out of their shared history. Their mother's friendship. I'm not sure why it intrigued me, but I felt there could've been a fascinating female friendship to read about. And there wasn't enough here. It's odd saying there wasn't enough when my other biggest complaint is the length of the novel. It wasn't necessary and only contributed to a slower pace. A good amount could be taken out not harming the novel. I promise you I liked this..it had it's faults. But still a good read. The writing upped the ante for me. It truly elevated the story with several passages that are still resonating with me. If you enjoyed The Creeping or other YA mysteries, you'd appreciate Alexandra Sirowy's second novel.
Profile Image for Beth Hudspeth.
527 reviews263 followers
August 17, 2016
Reviewed by: Hello Beautiful Book Blog

Unique, engaging story. It was told in a manner that had me guessing if this was real or fantasy.

Lana seems like any other teenager about to graduate high school until certain circumstances surrounding her life are revealed. The book starts in the “after” for Lana. The after being the murder of her stepbrother Ben whom she was extremely close to. They did everything together and Ben’s make believe stories were their favorite thing to play as kids. When murders start to plague their small town, Lana may know what is causing all these horrendous things to happen.

“The night everything that mattered changed.”

This is not at all what I expected. I thought I was getting into something completely paranormal. This book is completely different from what I’ve read before. It seems like it took a while for the story to start taking shape, but once it did I loved it. The uniqueness of this story was really what I found so interesting. It was a mix of horror and suspense, but with a YA twist. It turned out to be super dark, like my soul.

“People wear sadness like they wear hats.”

I love YA books. There is a certain reminiscence when reading about high school or just being at that age. This book starts out like any other YA coming of age novel, but boy does this switch up quickly. I thought I had completely misread the premise of this book from the first few pages I read. Then, bam! You are taken on a completely different journey with Lana and “the core”. I actually love the closeness of the core. It makes you feel like a part of something. Lana is just starting to become one of them in the after. One of my favorite parts of this story was their willingness to look out for one another no matter the cost.

“I am reckless. I am a heaving chest.”

I have to say I love this cover. I loved it before, but now after reading the story it also seems very appropriate for the book.

I think some parts could have been executed better such as, Lana is freaking vengeful. She thinks everyone deserves what is coming to them. She’s pretty sick. People don’t deserve to die because they said something mean to you in middle school. Get over it. I was shocked at some of the inner monologue. It was freaky, but I guess that’s part of the reason I found this book so appealing, the freakiness.

“I am a story.”

I really liked the writing style with this book. It just felt crisp. The sentences were complex and nice. That always plays a big role in whether I like a book or not. It will take it to the next level. This had me wondering if it was a real life horror or fantasy. This was such a strange book that I couldn’t help but like it. Everything was very vivid within the stories. The tone of the story is something I thought was executed perfectly. There was an eerie unease throughout the entire book. Great execution of revelations of characters and plot points. Overall a great, unique book.

***ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for review***
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,563 followers
October 21, 2016
Life got a little crazy so it took me awhile to finish this, but I really enjoyed it! I thought the writing was really strong, it kept me guessing throughout the entire thing, and the characters were interesting. My theory about what was going on was so completely wrong, it made me laugh! This was a perfect book to pick up for the SpookAThon. I'm glad the hosts decided to make it their group book, otherwise I may not have ever picked it up.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,694 reviews702 followers
July 3, 2016
2.5 stars?

I was beyond excited about this book. The synopsis is intriguing and I couldn't take my eyes off that cover.

I was definitely interested right away, but then my excitement just dwindled with the turn of every page. Lana's inner monologue was bland and uninteresting. I couldn't keep my interest and set the book down several times. I could have easily walked away from this book, not known the outcome, and been just fine.

There are some things I didn't see coming and the ending was pretty satisfying, but it wasn't enough. Obviously by the reviews, I'm in the minority.

**Huge thanks to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,092 reviews1,509 followers
July 27, 2016
After Lana's stepbrother Ben is brutally murdered she finds herself withdrawing from everything as she mourns until one night her long time crush Josh finally approaches her. Josh is a member of the "core", the group of cool kids that Lana had never been a part of but now they let Lana into their world as she finds herself starting to heal from Ben's passing.

One day Lana and her new friends are out swimming and when Lana dives under and sees a body. Diving down and freeing the body Lana discovers it was Maggie, her stepbrother Ben's ex-girlfriend who police had wanted for questioning about Ben's murder. Had the killer returned for Maggie or was something else going on?

The Telling is one of those books that absolutely sounded amazing but surprisingly when I began to read I just couldn't find myself connecting with this one. Lana just seemed to have such a dull personality that I wasn't getting excited to find out what had happened with her telling the tale which kept making it very easy to set this one to the side.

After a while the story seemed to pick up a bit more and made reading a bit more engaging as more began to happen. But unfortunately I also had a theory very early on that I hoped wouldn't be that easy to figure out but in the end ended up exactly what I'd been thinking so I couldn't help but feel a let down that it wasn't a bit more of a twisty ride.

Overall, 2.5 stars for this one. I just didn't find the MC that exciting and thought the ending was fairly obvious from pretty early on.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,991 reviews363 followers
August 2, 2016
Crazy read! Full review to come.

Edited for full review:
There is something fun about a read that right from the start, messes with you. You know things aren't normal and there will be some wicked twists along the way and yet, you still aren't completely prepared for them all, even the ones you think you see coming.

This was that read for me. The one that kept me on edge, constantly wondering, constantly guessing, and constantly turning the pages wanting more.

I truly was surprised with how wrapped up in the story I became, even when I thought I had it all figured out.

This was well executed, well played, and well done if not bizarre, strange, and also crazy and I lapped it up until the very end.

*ARC copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Coleen (The Book Ramblings).
205 reviews58 followers
December 11, 2016
The Telling was one of those books that pulled me in at the very beginning, even though I seen the ending coming. Set on an island near Seattle, Lana is trying to come to terms with the brutal murder of her step-brother, Ben, who was killed by an unknown man with a red painted face. The only witness to the crime is found dead, and Lana is the one who pulls the body out of the water. Lana and her group of friends are the likely suspects to the police, knowing that Maggie is Ben’s ex-girlfriend, and hated by Lana. The further they dig for the truth and to prove their innocence, more people connected to Lana are killed. Soon Lana starts piecing together the stories Ben used to tell her as a child to the way the people are being killed.

Is Lana committing the crimes and blacking out? Is she being framed for the murders? Is Ben’s ghost seeking revenge?

Those answers I did not know. I typically do not read YA, especially YA mystery/thriller, but The Telling is exceptional. While it is a contemporary mystery, it is about bravery, discovering one's self, and come the end, being honest with who you are. Despite knowing who the killer was early on, that did not lessen the enjoyment I got from reading this book. It is twisted, dark, and crazy. If you are expecting a horror novel, this is not it – it is a YA mystery that dips into thriller closer to the ending. The world-building and character development is natural and rich with progression throughout the story, and you can tell it was well thought out and crafted. It is a book that will be hard to put down, and in between reading you will be talking about it to anyone willing to listen.

I received a copy in exchange for an unbiased review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Anne.
383 reviews143 followers
August 1, 2016
This is my last review for the next couple of weeks *plays the world’s smallest violin*, and unlike the title of this book, I don’t really have a lot to say about it. Which is why this is probably going to be the longest review ever anyways…

The blurb sounded so promising. I haven’t read many YA thrillers, so I was wondering how scary it would be compared to a regular thriller.
I have to admit, a couple of scenes had me on the edge of my couch with some half ass attempt at hyperventilating, but I also have to admit to skimming through a lot of paragraphs because I was bored out of my mind.

This is the story of Lana, told in the first person by *drum roll*…Lana. She lives on the island of Gant (a fictional [?] island near the coast of Seattle) with her dad, stepmom, and stepbrother, Ben. Ben’s name is being mentioned 873 times in the book. Maybe this isn’t just the story of Lana eh? Or maybe, Lana’s just slightly obsessed with Ben. You can’t really blame the lass because Ben was stabbed and thrown off a cliff practically right in front of her eyes. All Lana (and the police) knows is that the culprit was a man with a red painted face.

While everyone’s determined (a.k.a. slacking the shit out of the actual investigation) to find out who Ben’s killer is, another person is found dead on the bottom of a river: Maggie, Ben’s ex-girlfriend. The one who also happened to be present when the man with the red painted face dragged Ben out of his car.


So while this still sounded promising to me at around 10% into the book, this is what happened next:

Lana: “Ben, Ben, Ben, yadayada, Ben!”, “I feel so awful.”, “I feel so amazing.” “I’m a bad person, somebody should spank me.” The girl just couldn’t make up her mind about anything, which made it very hard to relate to her. This is quite a problem for me if it’s the protagonist we’re speaking of.

The other characters: horrible teenagers + matching dialogues: I have no problem with YA and YA drama most of the time, but this was just toe cringing.


The plot: Just like Carrie mentioned in her review here, from the get-go, it’s pretty obvious who the killer is. So you’d expect it not to be that person. Nuff said there apart from it being a bit of a disappointment in the end.

The length of the book: Somebody edit this, please. It could’ve had a 100 pages less, easily (and probably would’ve been a lot better too then).

Why am I still giving it 2.5 brownies? Because I’m a sucker for the Scream formula in which victims are picked off one by one and where everybody’s a suspect. The edge of my couch, people!

Just because I didn’t really like it doesn’t mean you won’t either. If you’re into YA thrillers and don’t mind reading about some Mean Girls type of teenagers, this might be a nice summer read for you.


Thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest opinion!
Profile Image for Take Me Away To A Great Read.
498 reviews3 followers
December 2, 2016
The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Rating: 5 Stars

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of The Telling for an honest review.

The Telling is a story full of so many twists and turns that I could not have possibly guessed where the story was going. This story has so much suspense, mystery, and swoon. I loved this book so much that I had to find more books by Sirowy.

FULL REVIEW GO TO: https://takemeawaytoagreatread.com/20...
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,206 reviews465 followers
June 10, 2018
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

Lana spent her childhood hearing stories from her step-brother Ben. These stories fueled her summer on make-believe and adventure, always leaving Ben and Lana as the heroes defeating the villains. Then Ben is killed, causing Lana to be swallowed up in her grief, becoming a shadow of herself. While trying to pick up the crumbling pieces of her life, Lana and her friends discovers a body at the bottom of the Spring. The body ends up being that of Ben's ex girlfriend, Maggie causing Lana to instantly become a suspect when the connection is made by the police. Then the bodies begin piling up and Lana soon realizes that each brutal murder has a strange connection to the stories Ben used to tell.

I definitely enjoyed this A LOT more than The Creeping, which I really did not like. The writing style and flow improved so much from her first novel. From the beginning, I was intrigued with where the story was headed and how Ben's stories tied into the overall mystery. I liked how unreliable Lana was as a narrator and how she was questioning herself throughout the book as well. It made me second guess everything as well! One of my only complaints about the book would have to be the length. I feel as though many pages could have been cut out without taking away from the story. It seemed to drag on at points, making me loose interest. Although, the ending was so well done! I definitely did not have it all figured out like I though I did!
Profile Image for nat..
383 reviews181 followers
October 27, 2016
I have mixed feelings about this. I liked parts of it, but there were definite parts that I disliked. Ben was the most interesting character in the entire book, he was dark and twisted and I liked reading about it. I did had a theory early on and finally when I got there I was more intrigued than surprised.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kristin.
937 reviews100 followers
August 4, 2016



This is one of my favorite lines from Monty Python and it fits so many things in life.  It just sings in my head whenever I come across something I've never seen or experienced before in my life.  And The Telling certainly qualifies for this quote.  I was not prepared for what all the "craziness" in this book.

First and foremost, this is a young adult mystery.  Lana is our protagonist and first person narrator.  She is dealing with the death of her stepbrother Ben only a little over two months ago.  His "murder" has never been solved.  But after grieving for him and holing up in her bedroom for a entire month, Lana decides to kick gloom to curb and get out and enjoy life.  So there's the Lana before Ben's death, and the Lana after his death, who is now brave and fierce and takes chances, like jumping into a pool of water from a cliff above.

But Lana's summer of "healing" takes a huge left turn when a dead body turns up in the swimming hole.

It took me a bit to get acquainted to the format of this story.  Lana bounces back and forth between the present and the past quite a bit.  She's telling the story gradually, letting small details come out in their own time through her own story telling.  We learn about her and Ben's childhood together.  Even more important to the story, we learn about Lana's childhood.  It was sooooo interesting, it's what kept me glued to the pages, weeding through the bits of story being doled out bit by bit.  I'm not used to being spoon sped a story out of order.  I want all the details in time chronological order.  Not some here and some there, then oh, back there again.  Know what I mean?

Either way, by the time I hit 50% of the story, I was sooo okay with it.  It totally worked!  At 50%, the story took off, the veritable shit hit the fan, all hell broke loose, you name it, it happened!  Death, blood, dead birds!!  As I commented on Goodreads, I think the teens will freak when they read this..... or maybe not.  One scene in particular sticks with me to this day and I can't glance casually out in my backyard like I used.

I have to commend Ms. Sirowy's balance of characters.  I really don't want to discuss too much about what makes up each character because the story is partly about character growth, blah, blah, blah... you know what I mean.  But I want to comment on the fact that Ms. Sirowy made me interested in these characters, good or bad.  I wanted to read about them, even when they were acting like obnoxious teens.

If there could be an award for best ending, Ms. Sirowy would be in the running.  She had action, suspense, and she went in the absolute correct direction with her ending.






 Review appears on Addicted to Happily Ever After
Profile Image for Lee Kelly.
Author 4 books301 followers
December 28, 2022

Official comments: "Thrilling, evocative and compulsively readable, with knock-out prose and sizzling intensity. THE TELLING establishes Sirowy as a master of the who-dun-it, and is an absolute must-read this summer."

Sirowy's second novel, like her first, accomplishes the rare dual feat of being a page-turning mystery and also a study in characters and relationships. And while both books are excellent, this one in particular really spoke to me in terms of the relationships featured and the nature of the underlying crimes. The MC Lana has recently lost her best friend, confidant and stepbrother -- Ben -- which has turned her inside-out and forced her to question who she is and what she wants out of life. At the same time, grizzly murders start occurring on her claustrophobic island, ones that seem stolen right from the old nightmarish stories Ben and Lana used to share.

It's gripping, psychologically tense, emotional charged, and is still a book about real people, who they are and what they'll do for love and connection. I honestly was blown away, and highly recommend this!!
Profile Image for Chelsea.
1,134 reviews598 followers
September 14, 2016
Alexandra Sirowy’s The Creeping is one of the best YA thrillers I have ever read. Suspenseful and full of interesting characters, I knew I was going to have to keep an eye out for what Sirowy wrote next, and here we are a year later with The Telling.

I am not overly impressed by The Telling, but I think it is a solid YA thriller that I am glad to have read. It cemented that I really enjoy Sirowy’s writing style and her themes revolving around teenagers. 3 ½ stars

It’s been two months since Lana’s stepbrother, Ben, disappeared after being taken by from their car and seemingly stabbed to death. Lana is trying to cope by hanging out with a new group of teens. While they are hanging out, the find a body floating in the water; the body of Ben’s girlfriend, who disappeared shortly after Ben. Soon more bodies are popping up, leaving Lana and her friends wondering what on Earth is going on.

Sirowy has a slightly poetic and haunting style, but she can be long winded. I do not think this book needed to be 400 pages, not in the slightest. It could very easily have been condensed.

The mystery was not as compelling as The Creeping, which involved a supernatural element, but I did quite like this mystery, as well as the small town island setting. I won’t spoil the end, but I was pretty satisfied.

The characters remind me a lot of The Creeping. Sirowy writes about how messed up teenage girls can be, and it feels real. Sadly, I just didn’t really care about these characters, even though I appreciated the way they were written.

If you’re a big fan of thrillers I think this is worth a read, especially if you enjoyed The Creeping. Looking forward to seeing what Sirowy writes next!
Profile Image for Gina.
317 reviews18 followers
October 17, 2016
I enjoyed this read. I was interested right from the start. It kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next. Right when I thought I knew who the killer was something would happen and make me think twice. I was surprised about what happened at the very end. Altogether a good ride.
Profile Image for J-9.
289 reviews
March 26, 2016
I was lucky enough to get an ARC thanks to netgalley and the publisher.
This book was DISTURBING but in a good story kind of way.
I couldnt figure out "who done it".
It was a goodread.
Profile Image for Tressa (Wishful Endings).
1,720 reviews182 followers
March 21, 2017
THE TELLING was a creepily haunting tale where not everyone is safe from the killer lurking in the shadows. Those who enjoy reading thrillers with an edge of darkness may enjoy this one.

I wasn't too sure about this story. There is a lot of crude banter, innuendo and references as well as lots of partying, bullying, language, etc. Then there is the rather gruesome and macabre violence. We're talking nightmarish here. It wasn't extremely detailed, at least, but your mind can definitely conjure up the gruesome picture. Because of all this, this easily could have been a DNF because I wasn't sure it was worth the read. This was all the stuff I didn't really like.

Then there were the good things... Such as how intense and scary parts were. Some sweet moments between Lana and her friends and her brother. There was the very well written suspense, and if you're looking for a creepy thriller, the author definitely gives you that.

I would just say that if you like these kinds of books and don't mind all the gore and content, then you'll like this one. It's not really my type of read since I like my books much cleaner.

Content: Language, references to sex, innuendo, crude dialogue, gruesome murder, drinking.
Source: Received a complimentary eARC from the publisher through NetGalley, which did not influence my review in any way.
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews545 followers
September 25, 2016
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, and living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: Love, blood, and murder.

Quick & Dirty: Twisted mystery that will keep you intrigued the whole way through! I really enjoyed this one and would highly recommend it to thriller/mystery fans!

Opening Sentence: This is what after looks like: me picking my way up to the ridge in my swimsuit; the swollen water of Swisher Spring at the end of summer; girls baking under an orange sun on the boulders; boys cheering for me to jump, even though they’ve been vying for bragging rights all day.

The Review:

Two months ago Lana’s world was torn apart when her stepbrother Ben was brutally murdered. Filled with grief, Lana shutdown until one day the boy she has been crushing on since preschool finally notices her. Suddenly she becomes a member of the core. The core is the group of popular kids who run the school. Until now, most of them would tease and make fun of Lana but now she finds herself one of them. She is more daring, more fearless and more free but then the unspeakable happens. A body is found in their tiny town and it looks like Ben’s killer may have struck again. Will they be able to catch the killer before they strike again?

Lana was such an interesting character. I loved that we got to see so many sides of her personality. She is a sweet girl dealing with the loss of her stepbrother who was such a huge part of her life. They were very close and his death was such a defining moment for her that she defines her life by before and after his death. The before, Lana was a shy straight A student that got bullied by her peers. The after, Lana is confident, daring and not afraid of what others think. But the reality is that she is really both Lana’s, she just doesn’t know how to balance the two. What I found most interesting was that she wasn’t afraid to think dark thoughts. Everyone, no matter how nice you are has had mean or evil thoughts go through their mind at one point or another. The majority of people never act on those thoughts but that doesn’t mean we don’t have them. I found Lana to be such a realistic character and I really enjoyed reading her story!

The Telling is a twisted and creepy mystery that really kept me interested. To be honest, this usually isn’t my favorite genre to read but I have been in a major reading slump for the last couple of months and this got me out of it. I’m not sure if it was a nice change from what I normally read or if it was just the story itself! I found the characters well rounded and each one played their part so well. There was some romance in the story but it was slightly dark and twisted, which fit the story perfectly. The pacing was a little slow at times and I figured out who the killer was pretty early on, but overall, I thought this was a great thriller. If you are looking for a story with a good mystery that will make you think, you should definitely pick this one up!

Notable Scene:

Becca crawls toward the edge for a better look. She snatches up Duncan’s skipper hat from where he tossed it and places it on her head. “Blood is soooo gross,” she complains.

Duncan has ahold of his nose and is egg beating in a furious circle. “I think there might be someone else down there,” he says.

My arms slash through the water as I whirl around trying to see under. Josh is asking what the eff over and over. Willa’s soprano tells me to get out of the water, this second. Carolynn’s shouting for Duncan and Josh to go down after Rusty.

Rusty hit’s the surface hacking up a lung, arms flailing, palms slapping hard to the rope ladder hanging from the rocky lip of the spring. The chorus drowned out by his huffing, “There’s a girl…. She’s…at the bottom.”

FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of of The Telling. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews289 followers
September 25, 2016
The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy is a chilling story about Lana, who has lost her stepbrother Ben, several years prior. She has gone from goodie two shoes, to hanging out with the popular crowd that contains her longtime crush, Josh. The story starts at a secluded lake where she takes a foolhardy dive. But soon after, the teens find a dead body weighted down at the bottom of the lake, and suddenly, they are all suspects.

I award this book 3.5 stars. I enjoyed the suspense, and the mysterious backdrop of her stepbrother and the two mysteries that seem to be connected. The prose is really nice in several places, and I read the entire book in one sitting. I sped through the chapters because I thought I knew where the story was going, but Sirowy did a good job of planting clues but then taking the story in a different way.

Lana was a hard character to root for, and I felt terrible for her best friend, who seemed to get screwed left and right. The other issue was that although I didn't guess the ending, it felt like a bit of a cop out, so I wasn't quite satisfied. This of course is just a personal opinion.

Overall, I thought a many times wonderfully written suspense/mystery novel where the intrigue and suspense building is well done, but I was a bit disappointed by the ending.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,615 reviews160 followers
October 5, 2016
"Adults reach a certain age and they forget tasting the salt of make-believe oceans."

This is a wonderfully spooky story about a gory death of a beloved step-brother and the ripple effect this has in one girl's life. But when there is another murder, everyone wants to know what's happening.

The clues were near impossible to decipher. I just had to roll along with the group and try to glean details. Could it be Josh? Duncan? Rusty? Carolynn? So many options. It wasn't until the final few chapters that everything is revealed that I realized what I'd missed all along. All the little mini clues left around that I'd never grabbed. Probably because Lana hadn't either.

Wonderful storytelling and a world I was completely enveloped by. I just wish we'd gotten a few more details about Ben's stories. But this wasn't about his story but about
Profile Image for Gina.
536 reviews30 followers
March 5, 2018
1.5 stars

I was really entertained and enjoying the story at the beginning and then it just became so boring. It dragged and it took me so long to read it. There was no balance between prose and dialogue. And I couldn't grasp the timeline until 200 pages in. Also, the scene changes were convoluted. I hated all the "Ben this...Ben that". Ugh! There are a lot of things I can stand but unfortunately isn't one of them. The gruesome murders and the mystery of the killer is what kept me from dnf-ing this. I liked the characters, and I liked getting to know the friend group. Hated Ben.

I'm really disappointed because I was really hoping to like this book. I will give this author another chance as I liked the writing.
Profile Image for Erica Alyson.
822 reviews60 followers
September 30, 2016
Well that was an interesting twist. I love books where you don't see the end coming!
Profile Image for Tez.
836 reviews217 followers
August 16, 2018
WARNINGS: Murders of humans and animals, domestic abuse, stepcest, homophobic slurs, ableist slurs, bullying.
Profile Image for Moriah.
704 reviews87 followers
April 21, 2017
It had been two months since the death of Lana McBrooke’s golden-boy stepbrother, Ben. Two months since she shed her eight-semester plan and joined the Core, the elite popular group of Gant Island, Washington. Lana buried the whispers and insinuations that followed her and Ben and became fearless Lana, the girl of the stories that Ben used to tell her when they were in middle school. All of that changed when, a week before senior year, she, her best friend Willa, and the Core discovered a body in the bottom of the spring they spent the whole day lavishing. Now, as more bodies started showing up, those who had done the Lana McBrooke from before wrong, what’s real and what’s only a fabrication of Ben’s imagination started to blend together.

I loved this book. I listened to the audio and thought they chose a wonderful narrator. It did take me a few minutes to get used to her voice, but by the end, the story was so wonderfully Lana’s that I almost forgot the adjustment period. Since I drive when I listen to audiobooks, I was terrified to look in my backseat a few times. The killer on the island of Gant didn’t just escape the stories he or she mimicked, he or she jumped into my life, as well. I got caught up in the hunt for justice, discovering who would murder in such gruesome ways. It was frightening and thrilling, and it made my blood run cold.

Lana was an unreliable narrator—after all, she was a sometimes liar. Half the book I thought she was insane, and the other half she thought herself insane. Siwory played with was what real and what was only a figment of one’s imagination, and it was fingernail-biting good (and I don’t even bite my fingernails). I made sure my doors were locked, checked my backseat, and I didn’t dare listen to the gruesome stories Lana remembered from her childhood at night. While I couldn’t trust Lana, I liked her. She didn’t tell all her secrets from the start, and I devoured it. I had to know if my of my hunches were correct. Her unreliability kept the story afloat, it made the gasping moments that much darker, and the reveal much more morose.

The romance of the book was minute. Lana had harbored a crush on Josh Parker for as long as she could remember, and her summer-long journey into the Core made a relationship with him possible. However, her classmates wondered about the exact relationship she had with Ben, making her a social pariah, while her stepbrother was untouchable.

Say hello to my new recommendation. This is one of the three best books that I’ve read this year, and I don’t see something taking its place anytime soon. Siwory’s imagery is vivacious and draws you in like a animal would its prey. The Telling deserves a spot on your shelf. I just wouldn’t suggest reading it at night.
Profile Image for Myriam.
106 reviews9 followers
September 1, 2021
Raiting: 3.5

This book was so so surprising!! It was not what I expected AT ALL. The only reason I didn’t give it 4 stars is because I found that it was a bit hard to read at times (I think that it could have been shorter). This being said, the story was so creative and intense! I for sure recommend it.
Profile Image for Kelly Gunderman.
Author 2 books76 followers
October 6, 2016
Check out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!

The Telling was one of those books that I had been drawn to since I first heard it was coming out, way back in the beginning of the year. The cover and the title both sounded downright creepy (have you seen that cover? It's stunning, and it also connects so well with the book), and the synopsis makes it sound so deliciously terrifying that I knew it was going to be a delight to read.

Lana spent a good portion of her life being a quiet girl with not much to say, dealing with rumors that surfaced about her and her step-brother, Ben. She and Ben were incredibly close, and since Ben was a popular guy who did what he wanted and made the most of his life, people talked about him. And Lana. Only Lana stayed in Ben's shadow, never letting herself react or show that she cared.

"There's space between what you see and what I feel. In my experience there's usually a line that separates what people choose to show the world and what they keep hidden."

Well, when Ben is brutally murdered one evening, Lana is crushed, even though the circumstances around his death are suspicious. Going through the next few weeks in a daze, Lana finds herself spending time with not only her best friend Willa, but the group of popular kids in the school, too. Although she still feels like an outsider, she tries to blend in by acting braver and being more outgoing.

However, when at the spring one afternoon swimming with her new friends, Lana and her group discover something gruesome on the bottom...the body of Ben's ex-girlfriend, Maggie.

As things start to get more heated, and Lana and her group are the most likely suspects for Maggie's death, which has been ruled a homicide, Lana will stop at nothing to figure out what really happened and get the blame off of her and her friends.

"'Sometimes it's safer not to care so much.'"

As Lana and her friends dig deeper, they start to uncover some things that might have been best left buried - and as more and more bad things happen, Lana has a hard time figuring out what to make of everything. Still dealing with her grief for Ben, she begins to hope against all hope that maybe, just maybe, Ben has come back from the dead to get revenge on everyone who has tormented Lana over the years. But that's not possible, and rationally, she knows this. So digging for every clue she can find, she puts all the pieces together to find out who is committing so many murders...and to try and stop it before she is next.

When I first picked up this book, I was excited about everything - the cover, the story, the characters - and for the first time in a long time, a YA thriller that I read actually lived up to my expectations. It's fair to say that after reading this, Alexandra Sirowy has definitely become a favorite author.

I was a bit skeptical, because a lot of YA thrillers that try to deal with deep subject matter usually end up falling short, but wow...this really was a fantastic read, from the first page to the last. The characters were all so well developed that I had a really hard time even choosing a favorite. They all had backstories and brought so much to the book, that the characters alone made it a great read.

If you're expecting this to be a horror novel, it isn't - but it did have a lot of creepy elements and a writing style that made those elements pop right off the page and gave me some spine-tingling shivers as I read.

And that ending? I did NOT expect that. Wow. What a twist.

Alexandra Sirowy's The Telling is a creepy tale that will leave you questioning your own sanity and what you believe in. It's a page turning thriller that you won't be able to put down, reading well into the night, even though you're biting your nails and desperately wondering if fairy tales really can come alive.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!
Profile Image for Katherine.
769 reviews346 followers
June 2, 2017
"There were hundreds, all the sort of dark, twisted fairy tales you find in dusty, yellowed books. Except they weren't from books. They were ours. And no matter the faraway land or the plot or the crimes of the villains, Ben always made the two of us the heroes. We were better and braver versions of Ben and Lana McBrooks, It was good against evil, and we always won."

There's this really popular teen show on right now called Riverdale. Based on the Archie Comics, it follows the characters through high school in their small town of Riverdale. But instead of it being the cute, innocent little antics that comic book fans remember, it's a much darker, more surrealist take on the story of Archie and friends. Part teenage drama, part surrealist experience, this watercooler hit on the CW has managed to be both addicting and bizarre in its viewing experience.

I say this because if you like Riverdale, you'll probably be a fan of this book. If Riverdale is just a little bit too bizarre and occasionally surrealist for your taste, then you definitely won't like this book.

Lana and her stepbrother Ben have always been close, until the day a man with a red-painted face drags him from his car and kills him. Seven months later, as she's swimming with friends in the local swimming hole, they find the body of Ben's ex-girlfriend, Maggie, whom many thought had killed Ben.. But then the bodies start piling up right and left, and it's going to take a whole lot more than cherry pie and a damn good cup of coffee to figure out what's going on.

This book was quite heady, and by heady, I mean that the descriptions of where the book takes place have a surreal like quality to them. I don't know why, but in my head, this book took place somewhere in the heartland of America rather than an island in the Pacific Northwest. It's very much like the town of Riverdale in that sense. Hot, lazy summer days in a town where there's nothing to do except be bored and drunk, preferably at the same time.

And one of those adjectives above kind of described this book. It's not so much of a fast-paced thriller than an intense character study and tons of monologues a la Jughead Jones. I don't think he ever monologue in the show as much as Lana did here. It's a lot of her reminiscing about her childhood and her complicated relationships with the town she both loves and hates, the popular kids she loathes and wants to be a part of, and the stepbrother she loved and adored.
"Most siblings want to be different. They want to say this is me and that is you. But we were amateur brother and sister from the start. Both survivors of things we didn't want to talk about. Instead of crying over what we couldn't change, we reinvented ourselves as two kids who had, and only needed, each other."
You'll get serious Cheryl and Jason Blossom vibes from these two. They're all each other had in a sense; all that tied them to the town they wanted nothing more to get out of.

Because of all the monologues, the story kind of forgets the mystery that's supposed to be solved in the midst of it all. It took forever for one problem to find a solution, and it made the plot suffer because of it. In fact, most of the monologues Lana recited were about herself and her brother; not even about the other characters! I would've loved to have gone deeper into the bonds (fake and real) between her and her new friends.

The whole 'before Lana' and 'after Lana' was kind of pointless too, in my opinion, because I didn't notice much of a difference between the two. They were one in the same, which lends the question of whether or not these two 'personalities' so to speak were even needed to move the plot forward or develop Lana as a character.

AS for the ending to the book, I kind of wasn't surprised. There are a couple of red herrings for those who are beginners to the mystery/thriller genre, but for more seasoned readers, the solution the mystery comes quickly and without much surprise.

The morally gray characters make for a semi-compelling read, but the snail-like pacing makes for a bore-inducing read as well.
Profile Image for Lulu StJames.
183 reviews8 followers
October 4, 2016

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I was definitely drawn into The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy because of two things: that amazing cover and the last line of the synopsis summarizing the book into three simple words, love, blood, and murder. Who doesn’t want to read about love, blood, and murder? Those are the three BEST things to read about! Certainly, I was not disappointed. In fact, Alexandra Sirowy blew me away with The Telling where now I’m hoping there could be a sequel for reasons I’ll talk about below.

Normally, if I read YA, it tends to be fantasy, so for me to pick up a contemporary YA book really felt like a nice break of pace. It honestly, at the start, reminded me a bit of Gossip Girl (the tv show, never got into the books). Rich, privileged, 17 year olds getting away with anything they want thanks to neglectful parents and legal system. Then you have Lana and Willa, the Brooklyn Gossip Girl crowd that somehow make their way into the cool kids group. I loved it to be honest! But, that was only the very first impression since within the first few pages, everything changes as Lana pulls a body out of the water. The body of a girl she hated.

As the book progresses, more people are killed connected to Lana, people Lana hated. Lana begins to doubt her sanity. I begin to doubt her sanity and secretly think she’s committing the crimes and just blacking out. Why would she do that, one might ask. Well, because off screen, before the book has started, her step-brother was murdered.


A STEP-BROTHER SHE WAS IN LOVE WITH!!! IS THIS A SPOILER I DON’T KNOW BUT HONESTLY I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT IT I JUST NEED TO LET IT OUT! I absolutely love that trope in books, siblings or step-siblings kinda falling in love with each other and not out of abuse or necessity, but naturally. So, I was just reading this and the masterful way Sirowy has Lana talk about Ben just places the barest hint that maybe her feelings were more than just sisterly. So, I waited, and read, and kept thinking please, let it be so, and it was!

Though, okay, that wasn’t what made me love the book. What actually made me love the book was the suspense and trying to figure out who was actually committing the murders and why. Then, trying to untangle Ben’s shadowy past to find out what led him and his mother to Lana and her father. The character development was well done, pacing was FANTASTIC!! Never once did I feel like it was going too slow, or too fast. It just continually had me wanting to know what would happen next.

The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy is a marvelous YA contemporary mystery novel that seems to do everything right. Characters are developed and progress naturally through the story, the plot and mystery are well thought out and written. It was simply a great book!

// I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review //
Profile Image for Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books).
494 reviews344 followers
October 14, 2016
OMG I am so beyond happy about this book. It's a new fave and I might even like it better than The Creeping.

Have you ever read a book that you love only to find that it's the author's only book out right now and you have to WAIT to get your hands on more by this potential favorite author?? As the pub. date approaches, you start to get nervous that maybe you won't like the book as well as the first book. And you can't decide if you want the book to have the same feeling to it or be completely different. You just know that you want it to make you as happy as you were when you read the first book.

Well, maybe for the first time EVER, this has worked out for me. I read The Creeping and completely loved it. The feelings, the atmosphere, the boy.... it was so unexpected and I was DYING to read more by Alexandra Sirowy. Now, The Telling is out, and I can tell you if you liked The Creeping, you will like this book. It feels so much like that book, but it's different enough.

Two months ago Lana's step-brother Ben was murdered by an unknown man who supposedly had a red painted face. Now, the only witness to the crime (an unreliable, maybe involved ex-girlfriend named Maggie) is found dead. As Lana goes back through the memories of her brother, she decides that she needs to solve this mystery. Did the red-faced man kill Maggie to keep her quiet? Is Lana going to be next??

This book is set on an island near Seattle. You have to take a ferry to get there. It totally reminded me of Burn for Burn and Zoey Fools Around series of my youth, and I completely loved it. It took the creepiness feeling to a higher level because-- isolation = scary. I loved the mystery and there were flashbacks including stories that Ben used to make up for games of make-believe when they were kids. The stories were always kind of twisted and horror-like and it added to the plot because I just never knew if these stories were going to become part of the mystery-- like the monsters of the stories might somehow be real??

What I love about this book and The Creeping is the fine line between the supernatural and reality. When things don't have easy answers, sometimes it's easier to think something creepy or unexplainable is going on. And sometimes if you dig deep enough, it is explainable. I like not being sure which one it's going to be.

OVERALL: YES!!! I was supremely happy with Alexandra Sirowy's 2nd book. It lived up to my high expectations and gave me back everything I loved in The Creeping and more. I recommend both books-- especially during this time of year.

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