Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Darkest Corners

Rate this book
The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published April 19, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Kara Thomas

15 books1,736 followers
Kara is the author of The Darkest Corners, Little Monsters, and The Cheerleaders. She is also the author of the Prep School Confidential series from St. Martin's Griffin under the pen name Kara Taylor.

Kara has written for Warner Brothers Television and currently writes full-time on Long Island, where she lives with her husband and rescue cat.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,233 (23%)
4 stars
4,085 (42%)
3 stars
2,706 (27%)
2 stars
556 (5%)
1 star
116 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,559 reviews
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,239 followers
July 20, 2018
3.5 stars

I’m going back and forth on my rating with this one. It was a very engaging read, but somehow I still found myself let down. I enjoyed what I read and flew through it thinking there would be this big payoff, but the ending just didn’t work for me. This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. With expectations so high, I guess it was bound to happen. Oh well…

Ten years ago four girls were found dead along the Ohio River by the interstate all killed the same way. There was a serial killer within their town dubbed the Ohio River Monster. Tessa and Callie (both 7 years old) were the witnesses from the night Callie’s cousin was murdered that sealed the fate of Wyatt Stokes sending him to death row. They never talked about what they saw with each other. Now it is ten years later and Tessa is returning to Fayette, Pennsylvania for the first time since she was 9 to say goodbye to her dying dad. It is a town full of haunting memories that Tessa is not too happy to be returning to. Sometimes it’s best to forget. Callie, however, still stuck in Fayette, drowns herself in alcohol and finds escape from the memories through partying. Callie hasn’t talked to Tessa since she left town, so it’s a drag for her mom to have agreed to let Tessa stay at their house. It doesn’t take long for a fifth body to appear for the first time since ten years ago bringing to question whether the Ohio River Monster is still out there. Tessa decides she needs to know exactly what happened the night Callie’s cousin was killed.

I loved the dynamic of Tessa and Callie’s friendship. It is one of those complex relationships that feels authentic with what all they had gone through. It’s certainly up there in terms of well-portrayed female friendships in my book. The whole mystery kept my interest and is right up my alley, though I still found there to be a lot of unnecessary details thrown in. I can appreciate a good red herring…but come on!!! And my biggest issue was that I was expecting more of a thriller with this big mind-blowing moment. Maybe I’ve read too many psychological thrillers or the Gillian Flynn comparison gave me even higher expectations. The big twist just didn’t do it for me.

When I really thought about it..I realized if this had been an adult book and not YA, there’s no way I would have given it the rating I was planning to give. I guess there are just so few great young adult psychological thrillers out there. It’s unfortunate. This one is dark and is certainly a great attempt. I just wanted so much more.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,946 reviews292k followers
April 14, 2016
One detail can change an entire story. A necklace. A phone call. The smallest things could mean the difference between a man’s life and death.

3 1/2 stars. The Darkest Corners is a slow, mature, character-driven mystery about lies and truths, the media involvement in crimes, and confronting one's past. It doesn't have the usual fast-paced, pulpy style we might expect from YA, but slow start aside, I was glad for it.

And it does start slow. I feel like I should issue a warning about that. I found that it gradually became more thrilling as little pieces of information were revealed, but Thomas spends some time setting the scene and establishing relationship dynamics first. As it turns out, this is not a negative. The complex characters and relationships lend depth to the later story as it unfolds, making this a book about far more than just "whodunnit?"

Tessa has been trying not to think about her past ever since she helped put a serial killer in prison as a child. It's a dark area of her memory that she's afraid to revisit and confront; afraid of what she might find and how much truth was really in her childhood testimony. Now she is forced to go back to the place where it all happened - Fayette, Pennsylvania - and things start to resurface. Things involving Wyatt Stokes, Callie, her family, and herself.

It's a tale full of red herrings, twists and suspense. The kind where it's impossible to know who to trust - even those the narrator loves most:
Yes, I am a liar, but there are a couple of things I feel the need to say about that.
One: I come from a family of liars.

There is absolutely no romance, but plenty of girl friendship - the relationship between Tessa and Callie is a fantastic portrayal of two teen girls who've been through hell together. So many layers explored.

I also really liked the working class elements. Many mystery/thrillers stick with upper middle class families and look at the crazy going on behind the white picket fences - and yeah, that's fun too. But it was refreshing to see a thriller focus on characters from disadvantaged backgrounds - their life and family experiences and how this affects their outlook and the options that have been available to them.

There's a running theme of truth and lies in this book, demanding that the reading question the nature of them both and making the conclusion even harder to see coming. An enjoyable, unexpected story for teens and adults alike.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Store
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,415 reviews7,421 followers
June 6, 2017
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

I’m pretty sure this ended up on my Kindle when I went looking for a library book that wasn’t available so this was offered as a suggestion instead . . . . but I’m not positive because – well . . . .

Before I begin I need to apologize to this book for being the next thing I picked up after suffering from a severe bookhangover from Boy’s Life. I’m not sure anything I read would have been able to get me out of the fog that one left me in, but I am fairly certain this still would have just been “meh” for me.

The story here is about Tessa and her former bestie Callie who had a hand in putting a man behind bars for a series of murders of young women back when they were just kids. Fastforward to the present where Tessa has returned to small town Pennsylvania in an attempt to see her inmate father before he dies. While there, another friend goes missing, making Tessa and Callie question whether the man they identified as a serial killer so many years ago was actually innocent.

Sounds pretty decent, right? Unfortunately, things went south for me real quick when Tessa began questioning whether or not her estranged sister could have actually been the killer . . . .

It was pretty clear that was going to end up being a “bait and switch” sort of plotline that would morph into something else – and since this was a thriller that something else would come nearly at the end of the whole book . . . . which it did, but for 200 some pages all of the obvious f*&^ery had me saying . . . .

2.5 Stars for readability, but rounded down because in a week or two I will remember absolutely nothing about this book.
Profile Image for Kassidy.
338 reviews11.1k followers
July 13, 2016
Such a crazy mystery and thriller! It surprised and engrossed me. I just wish some of the loose ends and plot lines were tied up better.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews837 followers
March 29, 2016
USA folks: here is a GIVEAWAY of a copy of this book!

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

What I Liked:

My goodness, this book was chilling! I was thoroughly engrossed but also extremely terrified, from start to finish. I admit, I don't read a ton of YA psychological thrillers, or mystery, so this was a huge change of pace for me. And quite good, too!

Ten years ago, Tessa and Callie testified that they saw the face of the person who killed Callie's cousin, Lori, one night at Callie's house. Tessa left Fayette after the trial and moved to Florida with her grandmother. Callie and her parents remained in Fayette, but Callie has been stuck. Ten years later, Callie relies on alcohol and substances and boys to help her forget. Ten years later, Tessa's father is dying of cancer in Fayette's prison, and Tessa leaves Florida to stay with Callie and her parents. Ten years later, there is a new murder like the ones ten years ago - but the man who Callie and Tessa helped put behind bars is still behind bars. Nothing is adding up, neither past nor present. Tessa and Callie may not have talked to each other since the trial, but they both know something with this recent murder is very wrong.

I can't say I'm an expert on psychological thrillers, or mysteries, but I think this psychological thriller was EXCELLENT! Probably the best I've read (I'm drawing a blank, trying to think of others I've read, but I'm pretty sure none have come close to how great I think this book was). Thomas wrote a completely twisted and jaw-dropping story. Usually I'm one of those readers that figures out the whodunit and the twists fairly early on, but I didn't catch on until the protagonists (Tessa and Callie) caught on.

I am in awe of how intricate and twisted the whole story is! There are several events that Tessa questions, several situations/cases that don't make sense to her, that have never made sense to her, and/or about which she's trying to find out more. For one, the latest murder, of Ari (someone who Tessa new when she was little and living in Fayette). Also, where Tessa's sister is (her sister visited their father when he was dying, but Tessa hasn't seen her in ten years). Furthermore, where Tessa's mother is. Tessa hasn't seen her in years, and neither has anyone else. And finally, who the real Ohio River Monster really is - is it really Stokes, the man that Tessa and Callie helped put behind bars?

Believe it or not, all of these situations are somewhat connected... twisted, yeah? I won't say anything else about the plot and the murders and whatnot, but just know that the author does a really good job of weaving this story. Nothing is obvious, nothing is predictable.

There is a lot of emotional growth in this book, in terms of both Tessa and Callie. This book is written from Tessa's first-person point-of-view; Tessa has a strong, distinct voice, very blunt and almost crude and somewhat pessimistic. Tessa learns to open up and lean on others, throughout this story. Callie is different. She hasn't been handling the trial well over the past ten years, and she pretty much abandoned Tessa when Tessa had to live with her grandmother in Florida. Callie is, in my opinion, a mess, but she grows a lot throughout the story.

There is no romance in this book - which is both good and bad. Good, because not every story needs romance, and I didn't think this one needed it. Bad, because a little romance never hurts (no love triangles though), and there was a boy that I thought would play more of a role, on Tessa's part. But that's okay! He's a sweetie but he's definitely a periphery character.

Like I said, I don't want to go into details, and I definitely don't want to spoil anything, so I'll wrap up here! I'm so impressed with this story and the way it was written and constructed. I was chilled and freaked out and worried and desperate while reading this book - I couldn't read fast enough! Don't read this one at night, people.

What I Did Not Like:

This isn't getting five stars from me (it's not a new favorite - as much as I loved this book, I don't think I could see myself reading it again; I'm a scaredy cat!). But it was really good and I think others will enjoy. I mentioned the lack of romance being both good and bad - see my explanation for that above! That's the only thing I think I would complain about specifically.

Would I Recommend It:

If you're a psychological thriller fan, definitely do not miss this book. Or maybe you like crime shows, or mysteries; definitely do not miss this book. And if this is something out of your comfort zone (like in my case!), hey, you might be surprised!


4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I'm glad I decided to give this book a shot! I liked Kara Taylor's books, so I knew I would give Kara Thomas's books a chance (same author, different pseudonyms!). I highly recommend this (chilling) book!
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,543 reviews33.9k followers
February 23, 2016
The answer to this mystery is actually really interesting. But I'm not sure enough evidence was planted beforehand to make it feel entirely satisfying, and for my taste, there was too much time spent on superfluous details and there are too many uninteresting red herrings in the first 3/4ths of the book. I would love to have read this story if certain characters has been more developed , and perhaps if a lot of the extraneous characters and details in the beginning were cut out altogether. (I spent the first few chapters constantly flipping between pages and blurb and editor's note to figure out who the main players were, as there were so many introduced--and most didn't even turn out to be at all important/entertaining.) There were also some logic gaps that would have been questioned by routine police work and autopsies, I think, that seemed to be unaddressed here.

Still, I liked the ending chapters, and enjoyed that it wasn't what I expected. I read too many thrillers to rate this one more than 3 stars, but certainly other readers might enjoy this more than I did.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 18 books2,333 followers
March 22, 2017
Two things that are my absolute favorite:
1) Murder mysteries in which I am wrong about absolutely everything
2) Books that make me say "THIS IS SO GOOD" out loud while I'm reading

And yes, this was both. I love love loved this book. It's full of red herrings and secondary characters (and tertiary ones!) and yet it's written so masterfully that you can simultaneously keep everything straight while also totally reading the wrong things into everything, and that is just fabulous. I'd venture to say this is my new favorite YA murder mystery, which isn't a huge stretch since Prep School Confidential was vying for that spot anyway.
Profile Image for Oscar.
256 reviews93 followers
April 16, 2020
I think the only thing I enjoyed in this book is the ending.
Profile Image for NZLisaM.
414 reviews366 followers
November 5, 2018
‘They want to believe I did it. I think they’re afraid of the Monster turning out to be someone who looks just like one of them’. – Wyatt Stokes.

Ten years ago, a killer known as the Ohio River Monster terrorised the town of Fayette, targeting young women. Wyatt Stokes was convicted of the murders, largely due to eyewitness testimony from eight year-olds Tessa Lowell, and Callie Greenwood, who identified Stokes, outside the house, the night the last victim, their babysitter Lori Cawley, was taken.

Now, Tessa, who moved away when she was nine, is back in Fayette, haunted and unsure if it was really Stokes she saw that night. The more she uncovers about Lori’s past, the less convinced she becomes. And then another young woman is reported missing…

Tense and unsettling, the suspense builds slowly, leaving me constantly on alert, all the while aware that danger lurks close by, and that characters I’ve grown attached to are going to take risks to get to the truth.

Just like in her later books, Kara Thomas painted a realistic, detailed picture of small town life. In this case Fayette was a struggling, pitiful, poverty-stricken town, on the verge of collapse. The authors descriptions of the trailer park, the public library, and Bear Creek filled me with equal parts distaste and empathy.

I quickly warmed to our protagonist Tessa – she had a lot of emotional depth, and her fears and doubts were appropriate to the situation, and the hurdles she faced. I must mention, that even though he only had a small role, Decker was highly entertaining, creating comic relief in an otherwise perilous situation.

I was overall happy with the resolution to the mystery/s, the last chapter especially sent shivers down my spine. However, the conclusion felt somewhat rushed after such a slow build-up, and friendships and relationships were wrapped-up all too briefly, and in some cases not at all. As per usual, the writing, thoughts, and dialogue were exceptional.

While not quite as good as The Cheerleaders and Little Monsters, The Darkest Corners is still well worth a read, and a first novel to be proud of.
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,323 followers
May 26, 2016
A truth that's told with bad intent, beats all the lies you can invent.”

----William Blake

Kara Thomas, an American author, pens a dark psychological thriller in her new book, The Darkest Corners that unfolds the story of two teenagers who drift apart after the night when one of the teenager's cousin was found murdered one summer night. Now years later, both of their past comes knocking at their doors, and willing or unwillingly they must face the past and the lies before they begin their college life.


The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

Tessa has moved out of her small town, Fayette, nine years back, due to a murder of her best friend, Callie's cousin, Lori, and also the incident put a permanent end to her friendship with Callie, as Tessa testimonies against Wyatt thus helping the cops to put him behind the bars. And as for Callie, she drowned herself in alcohol and loud parties to keep herself away from the brutal memories of the night of her cousin's murder. But now both things and perspective have changed of Tessa, and she must face all those unanswered questions that making her curious and restless even if it means to go back to Fayette and reunite with her childhood best friend, Callie and to face the skeletons from her closet. But can she find closure that she is looking for and put it all behind her for once and all?

I'm an absolute sucker for dark psycho thrillers especially the ones which comes haunting back long after its end, unfortunately sadly, this book is not that kind of a psycho thriller. Instead this book challenges the readers's thoughts to think about the two central characters and the dynamics of their constantly shifting friendship. Even though this book had its own advantages and perks, it still kept me rooted till the end although at times, I was losing my focus as well as interest from the book.

The author's writing style is fantastic and really emphatic as she has laced it with deep and evocative emotions. The narrative is poignant and thought-provoking, although it lacks from smooth movement. The pacing is, I repeat very slow, so grab the book, only if you want to keep up with such a slower pace but mind it, the climax justifies the slower pace and makes up for all those times that you invested into this book.

The author builds up the suspense cleverly, but mid way through the book, she shifts her focus from building up the tension, to building up the friendship between the two girls and then throwing sticks and rocks on their way. The author strikingly portrays the teenage friendships and relationships by vividly capturing a young adult's mind who is either belonging from a family of lower-class or trying hard to make a living in a positive way. The author focuses on the issues created by the influence of media and how they provoke the minds of the common viewers to think otherwise.

The characters are the best aspect of this book that makes it stand out in the crowd. The characters are, yes, very, very flawed and will have that psychological grip on the minds of the readers till the very end and will also make them curious and question every little event from the story line. Tessa, coming from a working class background, absolutely makes her someone who knows where and how to keep her feet on the ground, as she knows about daily struggle. Tessa in not only brave, but also clever and honest about her moves, even she might be lying quite a few times in the book. Tessa's journey is provocative and even the readers, alone, need to figure out the way to the end, through the tangle and web of lies. The rest of the supporting characters are equally realistic and interesting as the author smartly carves them out with flaws.

In a nutshell, this is a captivating young adult thriller that will definitely hook the readers right from the beginning and will not let them go till the very end.

Verdict: Yes it is highly recommended for all YA as well as for crime thriller fans!

Courtesy: Thanks to the author's publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews802 followers
July 1, 2016
5 Words: Witness, family, murder, lies, secrets.

In my head, I bigged this up so, so much. This is one of my favourite authors and she was stepping away from her Prep School Confidential roots and going darker, more serious, more twisty and creepy... And it worked so well and I loved it. I was absolutely not disappointed.

The story was quite slow to start, it felt much more character driven than her previous books, and everything built up gradually until all of a sudden it was at break neck speed and I couldn't put it down. Add to that the twists and turns and by the end I was more than a little bit dumbstruck.

I didn't expect what was coming and that was insanely refreshing. This is unpredictable to the max. Everything I had guessed at, all of the theories I had, they were blown apart by the ending.

Everything you read in this book is for a reason. Nothing is superfluous to the plot. But you won't realise that this is the case until the end.

If you're a plot-reader, just stick with it. Because it does pick up and the pace is insane when it does. If you're a character-reader you're in for a real treat because this is all about the characters and the pace is just a bonus.

Before Reading:


I can't wait.

I need this now.

Not in 4 months time.

I received a copy of this for free via NetGalley for review purposes.
Profile Image for Cortney -  The Bookworm Myrtle Beach.
807 reviews101 followers
September 2, 2019
This was my 3rd book by Kara Thomas, and it did not disappoint! I thought it was really great. Good story, good characters, good mystery. Looking forward to reading what she writes next!
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,014 reviews1,051 followers
May 28, 2019

Well that was completely unexpected. Those intricately tangled twists of the plot got me upping my rating for the book. At first I thought The Darkest Corner is going to be familiar because during the first half, it actually is. It made me believe that it is simply about a murder mystery case that’s gone wrong when two little girls were forced to testify against the wrong man convicting him as the serial killer known as the Ohio River Monster (ORM).

Ten years later, these young girls Tessa and Callie who have learned to live with their guilt have to revisit their dirty closets when one of their friends gets killed in the same pattern as the victims of the ORM.

As the story moves forward, I find the plot getting more and more complicated, twisted and intense. I couldn’t say more because the more you do not know about the plot, the more surprising the story gets. It may read slowly at first and the narrative might seem blasé but these are just the author���s crafty strategies into sneaking complicated twists and turns to a compelling psychological thriller.
Profile Image for ♡ Kim ♡.
136 reviews250 followers
June 28, 2016
Way to go, Kara Thomas! I was a little apprehensive to read this one as it was targeted as YA, but I am so glad that I finally picked it up. The Darkest Corners was a quick, easy read that I simply did not want to put down. I found a few things predictable, but there were several twists and turns that I did not expect.
Profile Image for Drew.
449 reviews504 followers
July 24, 2016
2 1/2 stars. I was prepared to give this one star all the way up until the end, which was such a huge improvement it forced me to bump my rating up.

Tessa and Callie sent a man to prison ten years ago. Now Tessa is back in Fayette and she and Callie are rethinking their statement when new bodies begin popping up in town… Could the murders have a connection with the crime that took place so long ago?

Even if a thriller doesn't have the best character development, I still expect one thing from it: a compelling mystery. One that will pull me in and leave my mind racing. The problem with The Darkest Corners was the plot took forever to get going.

I was bored out of my mind reading what felt like a stiff, cold police report. The facts were served up, the main character had no personality or emotions whatsoever, there was no creepy atmosphere, no tension - not even any drama in Tessa's everyday life! It was utterly dull.

BUT. Around the last hundred pages, the plot got so much better. The storyline was much clearer, the mystery was suddenly intriguing, and the pace finally picked up when Tessa got whisked away to a cabin in the mountains (where was that page-turning quality in the beginning?!).

Even though the big plot twist at the end was rather cliché and cheesy, it kept my attention and I didn't feel like I was going to fall asleep.

I pity anyone who has to plow through the slow beginning, but the ending was significantly stronger and felt much more like the "thriller" this book advertised.
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
494 reviews245 followers
April 25, 2019
Wow!!! What did I just read?! There's no freaking way that I thought a YA novel would pack such a punch!! Thomas is officially my favorite young adult author now. I read The Cheerleaders when it came out last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, surprisingly so because I'm not a huge fan of YA thrillers. I picked this one up on account of how much I enjoyed Cheerleaders, and I am very grateful that I did. This is probably one of my top three favorites young adult thrillers, ever! The plot, characters, the raw emotion to it, the writing, all of it was sensational! This story about kidnapping, murder, broken friendships and family chaos, as well as unknown identity is one I would recommend anyone read!!
Profile Image for Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books).
494 reviews344 followers
April 21, 2016
Finally a YA Mystery that I loved!!! It wasn't 100% perfect, but it was SO interesting!! 4.5 Stars

A YA Mystery that sucked me in!!! I've been looking for a LONG time for a really good YA Mystery... it seems to be one of the hardest books for me to find anymore. I've read so many BLAH books, and then this one came along, and it's anything but BLAH. I was really hoping the serial killer angle would be that deciding factor, and I have to say I didn't even need there to be a serial killer for me to be into this book! It was just so addicting and suspenseful and the characters were strong!

The Mystery: I loved how complicated this book got. It went beyond just the idea that they may have put an innocent man behind bars. There was so much more going on than that. It was- Who Killed Lori? Why Is It Happening Again? Where Is Tessa's Mother? Why Did Tessa's Sister Change Her Name? I loved all the family secrets and drama going on simultaneously. It really made me want to read and read and read to figure out WHAT in the world was going on with these 2 families... and of course, who was killing people.

The Setting: I'm from Pittsburgh, so the area this book is set in is about 40 minutes south of me. I've been to Fayette County, and I'm always excited to see Western PA featured in books. The thing about the setting I didn't like so much was the negativity. I felt like this book gave off a really negative view of small-town life. Now don't get me wrong, I've been known to knock my small-town every now and again.... but one of the first things I learned in my college creative writing class was that people don't like to read about judgement. And this book was throwing the judgement around pretty harshly. Not everyone who lives in a small-town hates it. Not everyone ONLY lives there because they weren't able to make it out. Some actually CHOOSE to stay because they like the small-town life. Now it might seem like I ranted a bit here- but there was a LOT of little jabs about how terrible it was to live in Fayette scattered throughout the book, and I found it to be not cool.

The People: I really liked Tessa, Callie, Decker, and Callie's mom. I'm glad it didn't veer into the forcing-a-romance in category, but I can totally see Decker and Tessa getting together later on... or at least staying in touch as awesome friends. I loved that Callie was harsh and had her issues, but totally came around and showed me that she wasn't what she first appeared.

The Ending: Now even though this totally 100% fulfilled my need for a YA Mystery, that doesn't mean it was perfect. I didn't care for the extra turn that the book took to tie everything together. I know it was meant to be like a major WTF moment... but I thought it went a little too far into the yeah right category. I liked that it tried, but it definitely went about 10 steps over the line into crazy-town for me.

OVERALL: YES to this fast-paced, page-turning YA Mystery!! I've been looking for a YA Mystery that I clicked with, and I was so happy to finally found one! I think this was a big step up from Prep School Confidential.

My Blog:

Pink Polka Dot Books
Profile Image for Elle G. Reads.
1,514 reviews716 followers
January 3, 2018
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Mystery, Thriller, Crime

I've wanted to read this authors work for a quite some time now and while I wasn't totally disappointed I did find the book to be both too much and too little at the same time. That sounds confusing, right? Well let me tell you why. In terms of "too much" there was a LOT going on (especially behind the scenes) that don't make sense until the very end. And even at the end I was confused!?! Had the author stuck to one issue (because these issues were HUGE) I think I may have been more satisfied. In terms of the book not doing enough, I mean that there was little to no showing or telling what the issues where until we were hit in the face with them. That made the build up of the story very slow and the climax much too surreal and weird. With that being said, I am stuck with how to rate this book because I found it to be both compelling and terribly stupid at the same time.


A young woman is thrust back into the place she grew when her father is dying in prison. She never wanted to return to this dreaded place because it holds too many memories that she would much rather forget then face again. But she has no choice as she seems to need a bit of closure even though she hasn't seen her father in 10 years.

Fall back 10 yeas and this same girl (her name is Tessa) and her friend "witnessed" a murder. Their compelling testimony to the police lead to the capture of this man- a serial killer targeting working girls. So what happens if 10 year later, they think they got the wrong guy?

Within the story there is a ton of stuff going on- a lot of amateur sleuthing (teen sleuthing), a lot of reminiscing of the crappy childhood that Tessa had, and family secrets that pop up out of nowhere. Friends reunite, the stalkers become the stalked, and demented family members LITERALLY come out of the woods. Readers will journey with Tessa as she shuffles through old family skeletons while trying to find the true killer before the one who was wrongly implicated is put into the death chamber. What will happen? You would have to read to find out.


This is an interesting story if you go by the plot (which sounds super good) but when you get down to reading it it comes off at mediocre at best. It's slow, deals with a ton of weird issues that can leave readers feeling both disbelief and engrossed at the same time. But, it's not a bad story... Just truly unbelievable and complex for what it needs to be. I would read another book by the author but wouldn't really recommend this one unless you want to just read it to see how it plays out.


➜ The authors ability to weave twists and turns that are truly unforgettable.

➜ The inclusion of a serial killer within the novel (I am always intrigued by these psychopaths)

➜ The re-ignition of a long lost friendship between Callie and Tessa


➜ There was way too much going on in such a short amount of time. There were literally issues upon issues that kept coming up. It was all just too much for the story.

➜ The girls didn't behave like teenagers in this one. Sure they are 18, but they didn't read as if there were this age. Seemed to me like they were adults to me which really threw me off as this is a YA book.

➜ The ending: WTF?!?! I am clueless and left wanting which is not something any reader wants from a standalone novel. The ending should be clean, cut, and concise. However, that is not the case here. Unless I am missing something....

➜ How close it resembles Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. As I was reading this one I kept thinking how similar it is to another book I have read. Guess what? It reads like Sharp Objects!
March 25, 2016
First let me say this... OMG THIS BOOK!!!! OMG OMG OMG!

Thank you for letting me get that out of my system. This book has been sitting heavily on my mind since I finished reading it. I cannot help but think back on it. And every time I do... I discover that I like it more and more!

So I bet you are here because you are curious about this book and what it is about etc etc etc.

Well to quickly sum it up it is a psychological thriller murder mystery! That should tell you right there that it needs to be read, but I will give you a bit more of an explanation anyways.

The Darkest Corners is told from the perspective of Tessa. At the age of 9, while she was spending the night over at her BFF's house (Callie), Callie's cousin was murdered!! The thing is, she wasn't just plainly murdered, she was murdered in the same fashion that others had been in the area! Yes kids, there was a serial killer on the loose in Fayette targeting young girls.

Shortly thereafter, Tessa moved away to Florida to live with her grandma and Callie stayed. Cut to about 9 years later, Tessa has to return to Fayette to visit her dying father who is in the prison near there. She and Callie are no longer friends. Tessa doesn't want to be there. And then Tessa starts questioning things and looking for her estranged mother and sister.

My overall thoughts on this book aside from the tiny freak out I had at this beginning of this post/review are that it was AMAZING and wonderfully crafted. I couldn't put it down. I had to keep going. I was pulled into the story. I had to know what exactly was going on.

And to be completely honest with you, I am the kind of person who sneaks to the back of the book at the beginning of reading it. The suspense of "do these people get together?" "does that person live?" etc etc etc kills me. Usually the only way to keep me from doing this is to hand me an ebook to read (and I still do it with those as well, just not as often). Well...I did it with this one. AND YOU KNOW WHAT?! Even though I did that, I still had NO IDEA what all was going to go down in the book.

Yes. The Darkest Corners was THAT wonderfully crafted that I could sneak to the back and STILL be totally surprised!

My Rating
4.5 Stars

Find more of my reviews here:

This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,012 reviews1,405 followers
April 2, 2019
Tessa left Fayette, Pennsylvania, and the secrets that haunted her there, behind when she was just nine-years-old. But when she escaped she also left best friend, Callie, behind too. Now her father is dying and she must return for one final goodbye. But one goodbyes turns into many hellos when she discovers a resurgence of buried secrets and almost forgotten individuals from her past, who all seem determined to claw their way back into her life and make her second escape an impossible one.

Tessa was an interesting eye in which to view the unfolding events from. She provides both a removed perspective, as her absence makes her an outsider, and thus gives fresh insight to the social politics and small-town drama. However, she is also privy to the history, lore, and cultures of the town, as well as its past secrets, which gain her entry to what is often denied true outsiders. She is provided a grudging acceptance and as she explores the surroundings and the many mysteries there she discovers a lot about herself along the way.

I, however, found former-best friend Callie a confusing character to pin down. She was initially a trope-ridden individual and I assumed she was written into the plot to play a purely antagonist role. She quickly undergoes a shift in her personality which, although individualising her more, felt inconsistent with who she initially was portrayed as being. I can't say I particularly bonded with her but nor did I entirely dislike her and she added little to the narrative, for me.

I think my overall issue with this novel was that there were almost too many mysteries for our protagonist to solve so that, despite them all being interwoven, it gave this an edge of surrealism. The constant barrage of secrets, distrust, and bad deeds left me confused as to Tessa's central purpose in the town and eventually left me feeling a little blase about the eventual conclusion. There seemed to be new developments on every other page and it halted any suspense from building but also heightened the number of questions I had, towards the end.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,405 reviews989 followers
March 14, 2016
The Darkest Corners is that kind of atmospheric, cleverly twisted type of Young Adult novel that I’m very fond of when done really well and in this case it was done really well.

Tessa and Callie were best friends until one dark night that has reverberated down the years until the point where we join the story which finds Tessa going back to Fayette to face down her demons whilst dealing with the loss of her father. Secrets still bubble below the surface, dangerous secrets that could have widespread consequences.

I loved the vibe that Kara Thomas has brought to these indeed very dark corners – a character driven tale of monsters hiding in plain sight and childish memories given adult context. Tessa and Callie both have changed perceptions, having drifted apart they need to come back together in order to discover the truth but when everyone has something to hide its not that easy.

Some emotional and thought provoking themes run through the narrative, giving pause for consideration, whilst the author tells a damn fine and addictive story – some lovely little twists and turns take you down many paths until the ultimate and unexpected conclusion. In short an absolutely terrific psychological thriller that whilst aimed at the YA market is a fantastic read for fans of this genre whatever age they may be. A definite page turner with some clever construction, some wonderful writing and in the end the only thing that really matters – a darn good yarn. With a definitive creepy factor. I loved it.

Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Alicia.
71 reviews50 followers
January 23, 2016
*Netgalley provided an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

This was intense.
There is so much drama throughout this book it really keeps you interested.
I'll skip the whole summary of the book. But Tessa is our main character. Tessa is young, and has gone through some serious shit. She's stronger than she thinks. She's determined. She's kinda badass. Callie, her best friend, is almost opposite. What happened to them when they were kids truly broke her. But she's your typical high school girl. Tessa and Callie find themselves reliving the past. Maybe everything that happened when they were little, isn't over..

The Darkest Corners is packed full of drama. We've got alcohol, drugs, prostitutes, murders; the works. There never was a time were I was bored of this book. There's so much backstory, all told from Tessa's POV, and everything really connects the further you read. If you're like me, you'll see yourself predicting what might happen next, becoming a PI yourself thinking you know who did what. Maybe you'll also be surprised like me to find out what truly happened. Seriously. The ending?

Profile Image for Hazel (Stay Bookish).
635 reviews1,618 followers
July 7, 2016
Visit Stay Bookish for more book reviews!

It's been a few years since I read a really good thriller and I can't even begin to tell you how glad I am that I read The Darkest Corners. Not only did it ignite my interest in mystery books, It also left on the edge of my seat, eagerly turning pages.

Firstly, I loved the atmosphere of this book! It lives up to its title with a really ominous storytelling approach and mood. It captured the tone of the genre very well, which is ultimately what made me excited about reading it for Thriller Thursday. Although I've never read anything by Kara Thomas to this point, I was impressed by her strong prose.

“Every now and then another answer to what happened that night sneaks in from the darkest corners of my mind.”

What makes The Darkest Corners an even better thriller read is the compulsively readable writing. It's simple, straightforward when it comes to language but still manages to be sinister in style. I was left curious and anxious by the mystery the book conveys and my mind eagerly made up theories of who the killer in the story might be.

I love that the book doesn't make it easy for me to figure out its secrets though. The story is more complicated than it appears, which made it surprisingly refreshing to read. Storylines intertwine with one another in this intricate YA thriller and I really liked how everything came together in the end.

But for me, this isn't just a murder mystery. It's also a book about a girl who's lived a really hard life. Tessa, the main character, came from a really troubled family composed of an imprisoned father, a runaway sister and a secretive mother. Because of this, misery and intrigue shrouded her character, not to mention her background and relationships.

“There are worse things in this world than monsters, and somehow, they always manage to find me.”

It's obvious from the start Tessa's hiding something but I always hoped that she'd solve the mystery in the end and manage to not get murdered. Granted I raised an eyebrow to the head-on way she and Callie, her childhood friend, wanted to get to the bottom of the deaths in Fayette, the town where their personal demons dwelled, I definitely feared for them both. That said, the unexpected revelations and resolution, while hurtling at the reader like a fastball in the last few chapters, made for a satisfying enough ending though.

A compelling story that threatens to keep you awake at night, whether because you can't stop reading it or because you can't possibly fall asleep without worrying that the Ohio River Monster might come for you, The Darkest Corners might just be the YA thriller you're looking for.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews45.6k followers
January 30, 2018
Why have I been putting this review off for so long? (Seven months, to be exact?)

Is it because this book was so profoundly eh that I can’t talk about it for longer than a paragraph?

Is it because it’s so unmemorable that I’d forgotten major plot points in a few days, so things could only be reallyyyy bad after MONTHS?

Or is it because this book was not so bad that it really needs to be roasted, and probably no one really cares to see a review of it anyway?

If you answered “all of the above,” YOU’RE TODAY’S LUCKY WINNER!!!

I am just going to impart to you the five (five) bullet point notes I still have on this book in the depths of my phone, and add onto them to the absolute best of my ability.

1) “so slow for 250 pages and suddenly choppy-fast”

Well that doesn’t sound good! Or particularly thrilling, really! Why are thrillers so continuously bad! Why do they disappoint me always!

2) “stupid”

Awesome, past me. So wise of you. Thanks for that.

3) “poorly edited”

At least this point is fairly self-explanatory. God almighty.

4) “watered down Gillian Flynn”

The worst sin a thriller can commit, other than being comparable to The Girl on the Train in any way. Honestly thrillers fall into one of three categories: good, wannabe Flynn, Girl on the Train.

Those are in order from best to HORRIBLE OH GOD NIGHTMARE GET ME OUT OF HERE.

5) “Cinderella doesn’t have a long blond braid”

Oh I actually do remember this. Kind of. I’m realizing now that “remember” is a very strong word. Buuuut, some character or other has some Cinderella fixation, and somebody goes to Disney World at the end and sees a “princess with a long blond braid in a blue dress” or something to that effect and we’re supposed to just know it’s ol’ Cindy.

To which I scream from the rooftops:


This seems like enough.

Bottom line: This is a small amount of vague information, but does it convince you to just...try another thriller?

Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me an ARC of this straight up two years ago. Nailed it once again, Emma.
Profile Image for Melanie (TBR and Beyond).
504 reviews360 followers
January 16, 2018
“There are worse things in this world than monsters, and somehow, they always manage to find me.”

While YA thrillers tend to be lacking for whatever reason, I think Kara Thomas did a really solid job at writing an fairly unpredictable and fun page-turner.

I've talked about this before, YA really isn't up to par in the horror/thriller genre at all. I would go as far as to say, it's the most lacking of any category with this genre. I'm not really sure if it's because YA readers don't tend to read scarier books or just that YA is there yet and hopefully will catch up with the genre eventually. I still end up reading quite a few, even if they can get pretty silly.

I was impressed with Thomas's writing - I thought it was relatable and very easily accessible. I like my thrillers to actually move at a decent pace - I hate when they drag for 200 out of the 300 pages and you barely get any tension at all. I think The Darkest Corners balanced it pretty well. There were some times I could've used more tension but for the YA category, I was pleased.

I really liked the relationship between Tessa and Callie. It felt like a fairly real relationship, in that they hated each other one minute and loved each other the next. They had been through a very traumatic experience together and it broke up their friendship at the time so it made sense to me that they would be wary to belong best friends instantly again. These characters aren't completely likable. They will frustrate you and make you want to pull out your hair sometimes but I kind of like that.

I guess a lot of endings but I only guessed this one about 50%. Even though part of it was predictable, Thomas has such an accessible writing style that it will make you want to keep going. I think that is why I was never bored - her writing is great for thrillers. I wish the bigger twist wasn't so far-fetched though. I didn't hate it but it made me roll my eyes some because it was so over-the-top and left field and I didn't think it was necessary at all. I think writers sometimes get our their trope books and feel like they have to cover their bases and add TOO many sub plots in a book. This book did suffer from that somewhat.

I would certainly recommend the book if you want a light thriller that you could easily read in an evening. I've already bought her next book Little Monsters and I'll be sure to pick up her release this year as well. Good times.
Profile Image for Mary Books and Cookies.
544 reviews406 followers
May 6, 2016
Holy shit. I loved this so much, I can’t even. I was hooked from the very first page, because it’s a murder mystery book, with an unreliable narrator, with mainly female characters and which gave me Gillian Flynn vibes, although it’s not as dark and gruesome as Flynn’s books are. But for me, this was a recipe for instant success.

It follows the story of Tessa, a girl who comes back to her home town, to see her father before he dies of cancer in prison. Ten years earlier, Tessa and her best friend Callie, were instrumental in putting away the Ohio River Monster, a serial killer charged with four murders, including that of Callie’s cousin. But a lot of mystery surrounds the night that Lori was killed and the girls are hiding something. Now, with Tessa back in town, the murders are starting again. And this raises a lot of questions. So Tessa embarks on a journey to find the truth, once and for all.

I adored this book so much. It’s so engaging, enthralling and well written. It’s an extremely well done psychological thriller and, truth be told, we need more of them in YA fiction. It messes with your head, it keeps you on the edge, without it being dragged out or feeling tedious at any point. It relies both on plot and character development and both of them are well crafted. To put it bluntly, it’s a huge “what the fuck” fest. There are twists and turns, some you see coming, others you don’t. But they all form one unbelievably good final package that will leave you hungover.

I loved the dynamic of Tessa and Callie’s friendship. I love books that focus on female friendships and, despite the whole mystery that surrounds this book, the main focus point was still their friendship. How it grew, how it fell apart, how it can be rebuilt. They were both such genuine characters, flawed but human, and it was a delight to read about them. I loved how real the family angle felt as well. It’s just a book that takes so many mundane aspects in our lives and gives them a spin that left me breathless.

It’s really so so good. It’s a bit slow paced, especially in the beginning and it takes a little to really get going, but it more than makes up for it. If you’re looking for an intense read, that keeps you guessing, this is definitely the book for you. Pick it up now.


To everyone who got this far, thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts, comment or tell me anything :)
Profile Image for Cesar.
350 reviews235 followers
June 5, 2016
2 stars

I really wanted to like this book. I really did. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. Rather, I was telling myself this would be a good mystery/thriller that I would enjoy. You can imagine my disappointment when I finished reading it.

The Darkest Corners is not a bad book. There are some parts of the story I did like. But the flaws it had prevented me from fully enjoy it.

For one thing, not much happened. 100 pages in, nothing happened. 200 pages in, something happened but it didn't have much of a shock value. 300 pages, that's when it gets interesting. But the lack of plot development was the red herring of the book.

Here's the thing that bothered me a bit. When Tessa and Callie are looking for clues about the killer, it took a back seat and focused on finding Tessa's mom and sister. And while that does help with the plot, it took up way too much of it. It was 90% finding Tessa's mom and sister and 10% finding the culprit.

Even Tessa herself sort got on my nerves. Being that she's the daughter of a man who nearly killed a person during an armed robbery, she has this mentality that she doesn't belong in her hometown. When really, no one even gives a shit about her father. "Oh, I don't belong here. I fell everyone is judging me." Tessa, calm down. No one thinks that.

It's not a bad book, but it certainly wasn't a good one either.

Thanks for reading my review!

Profile Image for Lynx.
198 reviews78 followers
January 28, 2016
A lot has changed in the ten years since Tessa and her then best friend Callie testified they saw Wyatt Stokes, better known as the Ohio River Monster, lurking in her backyard the night Callie’s cousin Lori was murdered. Now living with her Grandma in Florida, Tessa does all she can to avoid thinking of her time spent in Fayette, Pennsylvania. But when news reaches that her father is dying, Tessa is forced to return home. Staying with Callie and her family is uncomfortable, not only because the two lost touch long ago, but also due to the secret they share, that the ORM may not actually be behind bars. With guilt consuming them both, the girls decide there is only one way to unburden themselves, investigate the facts and uncover the truth. But when you dig up the past, you sometimes discover more then you were looking for.

Kara Thomas has obviously done her homework. Taking from a handful of famous true crime cases and combining them into one riveting thriller, this novel never leaves you bored and always keeps you guessing.

Thank you Random House and Netgalley for this review copy.
Profile Image for Tijana.
310 reviews148 followers
March 28, 2020
Let me start by saying what my main problem with this book was (but in no way effected the rating).

So, this is a story about a small town serial killer, choosing teenage girls as its victims.
Quickly enough, a man is caught and accused, and the whole case is put to rest.
Years later, two girls, one of them being a family member of the deceased girl, start suspecting police had gotten the wrong man and decide to start an investigation of their own.
Why do I have a feeling I've read this before?
Oh right, because it's the identical plot to the one in The Cheerleaders by the same author!
What happened to creativity/originality?

That aside, this was a good mystery novel.
Plot twists toward the end were not something I could've predicted.
I will keep reading Kara Thomas, hoping she would start spicing things up in her future books.
Profile Image for catherine ♡.
1,153 reviews150 followers
April 10, 2017
Actual Rating: 3.5

The Darkest Corners follows Tessa as the death of her imprisoned father brings her back to Fayette, the town in Pennsylvania that holds all the memories that haunt her. As she reunites with Callie, her ex-best friend who parties to forget, Tessa finds herself investigating another murder, which seems oddly similar to one that happened years ago - the murder of Lori, Callie' cousin. What does this mean? It means that the murderer could still be at large and the man Callie and Tessa landed in jail ten years ago could be innocent.

As the girls find themselves tangled up in the lies they've told, they find themselves playing a dangerous game, where one of them - or both - could end up dead.

Boy, this book is so hard to rate. The writing style was extremely engaging but I didn't quite like it. Does that even make sense? I was pulled in, but I didn't enjoy it. Thomas' writing style isn't unique or dazzling ,but something about it really worked for the story that was being told.

The pacing of the story was definitely slow in the beginning, but it was the writing style that kept me going. I definitely started to speed up towards the middle, and it was an engaging read until the very end. There were definitely lots of twists, and the ending was definitely unexpected, but I still didn't feel blown away or speechless.

I'm not sure what to think about the characters, honestly. It was kind of hard to connect and I don't really feel that they were three-dimensional, but I do like the dynamic of the relationship between Tessa and Callie. (I ALSO LOVE DEXTER.)

One thing I really love about this book, though, is that it depicts the range at which people fall in. Unlike some books where everyone is flawed and horrible, The Darkest Corners has the entire set: there are characters that are plainly horrible, but then are people who make bad decisions because they're hurting, people who fall victim to greed, people who do bad things because they're afraid, and people who are strong enough to resist doing things like that even if things are going downhill.

I really respect that, and so I would say that this was worth the read even though it was a little "meh" at the same time.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,559 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.