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Sawkill Girls

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Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep. He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

458 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 2, 2018

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About the author

Claire Legrand

25 books4,118 followers
Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now she is a New York Times bestselling author of darkly magical books.

Her first novel is THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, one of the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2012. She is also the author of THE YEAR OF SHADOWS, a ghost story for middle grade readers; and WINTERSPELL, a young adult re-telling of The Nutcracker. SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS, her middle grade novel about mental illness, family secrets, and the power of storytelling, is a 2017 Edgar Award Nominee. Claire’s latest middle grade novel, FOXHEART, is a classic fantasy-adventure and a 2016 Junior Library Guild selection. The companion novel, THORNLIGHT, was a Kids' Indie Next Pick in 2021. She is one of the four authors behind THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, an anthology of dark middle grade short fiction that was a Junior Library Guild selection, a Bank Street Best Book, and among the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2014.

Her bestselling Empirium Trilogy consists of epic fantasy novels FURYBORN, KINGSBANE, and LIGHTBRINGER.

Her young adult horror novel SAWKILL GIRLS received five starred reviews. It was also a 2018 Bram Stoker Award finalist and a 2019 Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her latest novel, EXTASIA, is a young adult horror novel described as "The Handmaid's Tale meets The Craft" and was a Kids' Indie Next Pick.

Her adult debut, book 1 of THE MIDDLEMIST TRILOGY, releases in spring 2023.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,632 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews150k followers
October 24, 2021
Wow. The fact that lights didn't start flickering ominously and the trees weren't shaking and clattering in the wind and gusty voices weren't rattling off the walls and grating my ears while I was reading this book is supremely upsetting and not at all excellent if you ask me...

So, what’s this book about?

Marion Althouse arrives in the small town of Sawkill Rock with her mother and sister, Charlotte, hoping that the move would lessen the ache of their loss, now that they have to make do with the broken bits of themselves that their father has left behind. Instead, Marion soon discovers that the island’s inoffensive exterior is but a pearled shell that holds a fear so dark it has become as much a part of the island as the woods and nails and rot. Something is very, very wrong in Sawkill Rock, and it’s made manifest when Charlotte disappears—her loss, like a scythe, cutting the strings that were holding Marion upright.

Zoey Harlow, the police Chief’s daughter, would never be free of the past, never able to turn and face forward until she finds out what happened to her best friend Thora who has similarly vanished. Her restless mining for answers leads Zoey to a jarring reality: girls have been disappearing in Sawkill Rock for decades and nobody seems to care. Zoey refuses to let the blood of all these girls—with all the potential in the world—spill into nothingness. And Val Mortimer gives her a place to put all the blame and fury she’s been carrying all this time.

The Mortimer women have bought their wealth and power with all the nameless girls they’d fed to The Collector in the years since they’d let it crawl down their throats and take up residence inside their bellies. For some, the island’s own personal bogeyman may be nothing more than a rumor that time has smoothed down to the shape of a myth, but to Val Mortimer, The Collector is as real as the blood she pays him like a tithe to keep him silent.

Three girls, three wills: one to summon the monster, and two to bar his way. All is blown open, and the truth spills out like blood.

“Decades of dead girls. Poor girls and rich girls. Black and brown and white girls. All of them Sawkill girls.”

From startling insights to dizzyingly visual prose to tremendous character work to earnest approaches to identity, gender and sexuality, there's honestly so much more than I can feasibly talk about here.

Sawkill Girls is a moody, atmospheric story that leaves a strong impression that will not wane anytime soon. It’s as sharp as a dagger and cold as a corpse. Claire LeGrand evokes her setting with tactile immediacy and deft skill, and while Sawkill Rock is an imaginary place, it still feels solidly real. She twists the most mundane scenarios into something dark and sinister, and, like the night has a way of lending weight to phantasms, the author’s words full of meaning and her descriptions brimming with potential and vibrant life make the whole alive with brutal intensity. I absolutely loved it.

But the real magic with Sawkill Girls lies with the subversions and nuances that LeGrand so craftily weaves into her yarn. Bold and illuminating, this story, which has the unmistakable shape of a dark fairy tale with the rich density of horror, centers around three young women who, all, have lost something to the monster: Marion—her sister, Zoey—her best friend, and Val—her freedom.

Sawkill Girls forces the reader to see its characters as more than their actions. Val’s character, in particular, is utterly mesmerizing. There’s a kind of stirring, an allure about her that creeps over you, and when LeGrand begins to peel away the shell around her, what we see is not exactly pretty. The Mortimer women are more a personification of hundreds of years of fear and complicity than living, breathing human beings. Every Mortimer daughter is a gift to be given—or more like livestock to be sold to the monster in the woods. This is all Val has ever known. The monster willed, and she obeyed. And the part of me that couldn't reconcile with that sort of seemingly pitiless cruelty warried constantly with the part that understood that Val is a victim too.

But Val's victimhood pales in view of the collateral damage that she contributes in, and the story does not allow Val to slough off her culpability for serving the monster, even if she was forced to her knees to do it. Then, Val falls in love with Marion and the carefully cultivated detachment and unconditional obedience that has been rammed down her throat for years cede their spot for gasping gnaws of panic and a heart-wrenching awareness of what she has done…and that’s where our perception of Val starts to reform itself into a new shape. Val's arc is truly one of my favorite things about this book.

And since we're on the subject of favorite things, it’s no secret—in the way the moon is no secret—that I can’t help but always hold stories centered around women's relationships to each other to a higher standard. Sawkill Girls triumphs on several fronts, but it’s its careful and genuine depiction of female friendships that made this book leap and claim a spot amongst my favorite books of this year.

There are forces—that I’ll abstain from mentioning because spoilers—that attempted to pit Val, Marion and Zoey against each other, that prodded at their differences with a degree of enthusiasm that bordered on the obscene, hoping the rift between them would become a chasm. But Marion, Val and Zoey stood side by side, braced against the future—forgotten, in their determination, is all the strife between them—when they begun to recognize the power of putting their voices together against a system that strived to bully out their last defiant shred of hope.

Sawkill Girls has pretty much taken the "girl-on-girl hate" trope and smashed it against the wall. It felt very resonant in its portrayal of the misogyny that’s embedded in a culture that perpetuate the misguided notion that women are socialized to resent other women. While rivalries occur between any genders, we, unfortunately, live in a society that seems to encourage women to tear each other down for no reason other than lucrative gain and enticing drama. This is displayed all the time in social media with articles and posts that attempt to create a vicious competition—that isn’t there and should never be—between women who were all successful and brilliant and magnificent in their own right and are probably not plotting each other’s downfall.

“Girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

I also relished this book’s diversity and careful exploration of sexual identity—Marion is bisexual, Val is also queer (but no label was used), Zoey is black and asexual and has broken up with her boyfriend, Grayson, because she thinks her asexuality would be an issue (IT ISN’T! This boy would drag his ravaged body across the universe for her, okay?) Speaking of Grayson, it frankly feels so subversive to have a male lead who’s more than content taking on the responsibility of cleaning and baking and translating ambiguous latin texts, while the female leads determinedly take on the world, adventuring with minimal reservations, and trailing wreckage in their wake. What a power move.

Overall, I know that, objectively speaking, existing in this world would be maximally dreadful, but the concept of belonging to a group of SAPPHIC GIRLS who draw on their magical powers to FUCK UP the life of the island’s bogeyman is firmly inside my circle of interests. I’m left with the overwhelming desire to stand in the middle of a circle that I've drawn using my blood on the top of a mountain during a full moon, summon a demon to slay it, perform at least one exorcism and take down a cult. And make some friends, too, I guess.

Seriously, READ THIS BOOK.

If you liked this review please consider leaving me a tip on ko-fi !

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,079 reviews17.2k followers
April 2, 2020
“Screw that book,” said Val. “It was written by men.” She held out her free hand to Marion. “We’re rewriting it.”

First of all, if you wanted to see a Buzzfeed Unsolved investigation into this book, yes, that exists, and there aren't even spoilers. Second of all, this book was a freaking masterpiece and I need you all to read it.

Sawkill Girls is a book about not being your parent’s mistake, the deep and long-lasting effects of trauma and loss, and the repression of grief we all go through. It’s also a horror book. Also, it’s also about three girls and they’re all sapphic and all so well written and developed I want to cry.

I don’t quite know how to describe what made this book so fantastic - it’s a character study that’s also a thriller, a supernatural horror movie that’s also a discussion of grief and trauma. The thematic arc around Zoey’s loss of Thora; Marion’s experience with loss of someone close to her, and her experience of losing her mother’s being fully there, a loss of a loving family that isn’t even full; and Val’s feeling of never having had a loving family, but mourning for the love she’s never gotten nonetheless. It’s just fucking awesome.

➽C H A R A C T E R S

→Marion - bisexual daughter of a mother in mourning, trying to find her own identity.
→Val - morally grey lesbian abuse survivor. if any of you know me you possibly know that this a character archetype written for me, personally,
→Zoey - black and bi and asexual legend trying to recover from grief over a friend.

🌷Val’s character arc and character development is lowkey someone reading my 2015 tumblr posts and being like “okay so what does she like in a morally grey character” she’s Morally Gay™️ and I love her. On a more serious note, I genuinely related a lot to some of her characterization; her ideation around love as something temporal, but her contrasting desire for some kind of real love nonetheless.

🌷Zoey... is such an important character to me? god she lets herself be angry about things and the NARRATIVE lets her be angry about things and humanizes her so much and god I love that !!!!!!!!! In all seriousness, it’s really rare for women to be allowed by their narratives to experience angry grief; Zoey is not here to be punished, because even with occasional blips, she is processing her emotions.

🌷Marion was actually somewhat my least favorite, but I still absolutely loved reading her chapters, which should definitely say something about how freaking good this book is. I really love the emphasis put on her ability to grow and move past her grief, not putting it in the past but also not making herself into a vehicle for it. And her relationship with her mother, who is not always there for her, was utterly heartbreaking.

Despite the fact that they’re not leads, I enjoyed the other characters as well; Zoey’s dad is awesome, and Charlotte was a lot of fun. Perhaps more importantly, Grayson has done nothing wrong ever in his life.

➽T H E M A T I C S

🌷At its core, this is a book about grief. In their own ways, each character in this book is dealing with what it feels like to mourn, to be alone, to miss people who aren't coming back. For Zoe, it is her ex-best friend. For Marion, it is her father and one other close person. For Val, it is love that she has never had. And their reactions!! are so different!! I think the way grief is handled within this book is so glorious and incredible.

🌷We got in on Val!! So let's talk about Val. The arc around commodification of body as experienced by Val is just genuinely.... incredible, and one of my favorite arcs within this book. Val is being preyed upon by a creature who has essentially given her no other choice than to be an accomplice to murder, time and time again — and more than that, she is the daughter of a mother who has never taught her that she has worth. Legrand refuses to shy away from the horror of what Val has gone through and is going through every day, while also not allowing her suffering to outweigh that of others. It's a hard-to-handle real-world issue wrapped up in a horror movie premise, and that is exactly what works so well about this discussion.

🌷I really really love how much this focuses on girls. All I can say is the blurb of this as “girls loving girls, girls kissing girls, girls being friends with girls, girls helping girls” was really not pulling its fucking punches, and god this book was what I deserved in the year of our lord 2018.

➽A T M O S P H E R E

🌷This is one of the most atmospheric books I read in 2018 or like, ever. Actually, no, guys, I should warn you, this book was fucking scary. If any of you have read The Diviners, in all its paranormal reading-this-for-the-characters-but-also-I’m-terrified glory, you will know what this feels like. And don’t worry, the fear factor is not playing around: with one (1) singular exception, this didn’t stray away from the character deaths.

🌷I felt Enveloped in this book, and it is because the writing of this book is fucking glorious. This is one of those books that I had to highlight on almost every page. I actually read this backstage, while very stressed out, at a show I was teching for, and it was the only thing that I couldn’t be distracted from.

➽R O M A N C E

🌷Grayson and Zoey !!!!!!!!!!! Grayson and Zoey Christ the #1 m/f book ship of my entire life god im crying they’re so good and soft
Okay, so Grayson and Zoey are best friends who dated and are now exes, and I’m beginning to think I really like the exes-to-getting-back-together dynamic. I like how frank the discussion of relationship insecurities was here; there is no glossing over the issues their relationship had. And by the time anything happens between them, their friendship had already convinced me fully of their platonic-soulmates capacity. (Ironically, I platonically reconnected with my ex on the exact same day I finished this book. What’s happening, @ the universe?)

🌷MARION AND VAL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don’t even know if I’m joking when I say Marion and Val are one of my favorite f/f ships I’ve ever gotten out of a ya book. I sometimes struggle with villain ships, but this dynamic is just so interesting. I absolutely loved how their dynamic evolved and improved over time, and their development made me so happy.

➽I N C O N C L U S I O N

I somehow managed to hold it together without crying for this entire book and then I read the last page and the dam broke and I just,,,,,, I don’t even know what to say I can’t review this or think about this it’s too flawlessly catered to my taste on every single level I would give my life for it. I originally titled this review laundry list of reasons this was written specifically for Elise, 17, user @TheBookishActress and honestly… mood. This was so perfect and just what I wanted to close off my 2018.

TW: homophobia (challenged), acephobia (challenged), sexual assault, parental abuse, animal death.

release date: 11 October 2018
Arc received from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.
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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,154 reviews97.7k followers
February 4, 2019

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“Decades of dead girls. Poor girls and rich girls. Black and brown and white girls. All of them Sawkill girls.”

Sawkill Girls is going to be such an amazing, atmospheric, spooky Halloween read for so many. The start of this book was phenomenal, and the first half was five star worthy in my opinion. I just, didn’t love the ending of this, but I think many of you will. And overall, I completely recommend this, and I had such an amazing time reading this creepy tale.

Sawkill Island has never been safe for young girls. More and more frequently young girls have gone missing, without their bodies ever being found. There is a local legend about a paranormal beast called The Collector, who hunts and feasts on these young girls, while simultaneously growing stronger himself. But we also soon find out, there is no way that the Collector is capturing these girls on his own.

We are introduced to three girls, whose stories and fates interweave, regardless of what they have to say about it. And only these three girls have the power to save the island. That is, if they are willing to come together and try.

“A girl with incredible strength. A girl who can vanish. A girl who burns.”

Zoey - Black, bi (not on page but stated attraction to boys and girls), and asexual. Also, such a damn blessing. Recently lost her best friend to the tragedy of the island. Her father is the local sheriff.

Marion - Plus sized, likes girls, but I don’t believe Lesbian, pan, bi, or any other label is said or implied. But she does start a relationship with a girl in this book (and holy shit, it’s so good)! She is also dealing with the loss of her father, while trying to be the support system for her mother and her sister while they move to this island.

Val - Queen bee of the island and hiding a dark secret that she shares with her family. Also, her sexuality is never stated on page, but she talks about relationships with boys and has a relationship with a girl.

Honorable mention and honorary fourth member:
Grayson - Zoey’s best friend and ex. My favorite character in the entire book. I would honestly die for this boy.

“Tragedy had touched Sawkill, again and again and again, but after each girl’s disappearance, once a respectable amount of time had passed, everyone seemed to stop caring.”

These three girls come together and try to figure out what is killing these girls and if there is anyway to stop it from happening to them. At first, this book feels like you’re reading it through a fog, where you aren’t sure what exactly is going on. But mystery after mystery is eventually answered, and a beautiful tale of friendship, womanhood, and love is unfolded. I mean, it is unfolded after and during some really dark, gory, and violent scenes. This is for sure a horror book.

I really want to emphasize that this is a dark book. Please use caution and make sure you are in the right mindset while reading. Trigger and content warnings for loss of a loved one, somewhat detailed murders, violence, gore, a lot of talk of blood, grief, abuse, parental abuse, underage drinking, talk of miscarrying, sexual abuse (unwanted kissing, and maybe touching), animal death, scene with a girl purposely cutting open her palm, use of the word “fat’ negatively, and a really acephobic comment that is completely challenged and apologized for (but I know that it can still be really hurtful to read).

And just to talk a bit more about it, Sawkill Girls centers around grief, trauma, and loss. It also heavily talks about how we are not the mistakes or the problems of our parents, even though they could heavily impact our own lives. Each girl has their own heartache. Marion, being forced to keep her mother and sister safe after losing their father, while never allowing herself to grieve. Zoey, for learning how to live after pushing someone who loves you away and after losing your best friend. Val, for struggling to please her mother, while being abused by her mother, while never being able to leave her mother.

“There was a magnetism to the Mortimer women, and they knew it, and they used it. It was their right, this witchery; they’d given up their souls for it.”

And Claire Legrand is blessing us with sexual representation in this book. Not only do we have a swoon worthy f/f romance that I was so there for from the very start, but she also gives us the best asexuality representation I’ve read in a book to date! And the word asexuality is used on page, the stigmas and stereotypes are discussed very thoughtfully, and my heart is so full. Also, full disclosure: I do not ID on the ace spectrum, but I did at one point in my life.

This story also heavily discusses how girls are raised in a world that is constantly pitting us against one another. How this competitiveness is instilled in our blood, and bones, and very being by society. How men make gross jokes like “this is why girls can't work together” and other disgusting comments along those lines, because it helps reinforce these stereotypes. How we are born to waste time trying to raise ourselves above other girls, when we could come together and raise each other up equally.

“Girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

And this story is so very feminist, and Claire weaves the undertones, flawlessly, in every scene. I mean, this is a story about three girls, from very different backgrounds, all harboring their own individual pains and hurts, coming together to defeat a monster. But it is also about how we view girls as both the most vulnerable prey, but also the most sacrificable objects. And how if a problem doesn’t impact white, cis, dudes, the problem isn’t going to gain priority to get fixed.

I won’t lie, and I said it above, but I didn’t love the ending of this book, but (just like reading) I think it will be subjective. I was really hoping for a certain ending, and I was a little disappointed when it didn’t come to fruition. I also wasn’t in love with The Collector. I mean, you’re not supposed to be in love with him, but once we learned more about him, I just wasn’t impressed. Which, again, is why I think I fell so in love with the first half of this book, because the mystery surrounding him was so good!

Overall, I really enjoyed this standalone! Also, at this point, I think I’ll just preorder what Claire Legrand does next, because she’s an author that just keeps impressing me, and my queer self. Seriously, the sexuality representation in this book is such a blessing. Also, there is a moth that reminds me of Sarai, and I felt personally attacked in the best way possible. I love the entire vibe and aesthetic of this book, and I truly think it’s going to have such an impressive impact come October!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

❤ Buddy Read with: Amy | Julie | Jules | Imogen | Ellie | Laura | Natasha | Wren | Alexis
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,424 reviews8,991 followers
August 14, 2022
A girl with incredible strength. A girl who can vanish.
A girl who burns.
There are always three.

When Marion moves to Sawkill Rock, an island off the coast of Massachusetts, she is hoping it will be a place for her mother, sister and herself to recover and rebuild.

After the unexpected death of her father, things have been really tough. Marion was left to hold the family together; a weighty responsibility for any teen.

Once on island, it doesn't take long for Marion to realize Sawkill isn't going to be all sunshine and rainbows.

Something ominous lurks upon these shores and it just so happens to be feeding on the blood of young women. No one is safe.

Zoey, also a transplant to the island with her police officer Dad, is all too familiar with the little problem of disappearing girls plaguing the small island.

In fact, her best friend is one of the disappeared and she has never been satisfied with the community's response.

Zoey befriends Marion and together they begin to work on unveiling the dark and terrible secrets of Sawkill.

When Marion's older sister, Charlotte, becomes one of the missing, things really start to heat up.

Val Mortimer is the Queen Bee; the Regina George of Sawkill Rock, if you will.

She's beautiful, popular, rich, possibly evil and she's got her sights set on Marion.

I went into this book with the mistaken belief that it was a YA Contemporary with some elements of Magical Realism.

I was mistaken. This book is full-on YA Horror!

Dark secrets, urban legends, a monster feeding on the blood of girls, an uncoordinated band of kids coming together to defeat evil, a F/F relationship, humor, mystery and danger. This book has it all!

The atmosphere is hella dark and fully imagined.

I was completely drawn into life on the rock. As a person who also lives on a small island, 30-miles out to sea, I can say the island life rep was strong.

This would be a great book to pick up in October. I am actually a little sad I didn't get to it then.

My one critique would be that I felt like this was a bit too long. I started getting anxious toward the end and just wanted a conclusion already!

I think the same story could have been told, and perhaps better served, if about 50-pages had been shaved off.

But that is 100% my opinion. What the heck do I know anyway?

I would recommend this to all my Horror-loving friends, or even just friends who like stories with a dark, creepy atmosphere.

Definitely worth a read!
Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews884 followers
August 15, 2019
Okay. That was disappointing.

This had so much potential and I actually really loved the first third/half.
But it went so hardcore downhill after that.. I don't even really know what to say.

It evolved from a creepy, creative story with great, diverse characters to a way overdone, rushed, man hating mess.
I was so excited for the female empowerment (and I really really loved all the diversity!) but that quickly turned into painting men as the most evil beings on this planet.

I have a few quotes for you:

"I feel sort of weird doing this. Like I'm some sort of asshole professor mansplaining the situation to you"
- said by the best friend of the person who he is talking to. And he was literally ASKED to explain.

"Can I once again apologize on behalf of men everywhere? Because we can really fucking suck sometimes" - "Sometimes?" - "Most of the time"
- Ugh. Do I even have to comment on that?

"Marion couldn't imagine a God like the one she'd grown up hearing about - some man sitting in the clouds, maneuvering the pieces of the world to suit his whims because he, of course, knows best"
- Uhhh.. yeah. I'm not religious but I feel like this might be low key offensive.

"Screw that book, it was written by men."
Yeah, because everything every man ever creates is shit.

Look, I know there are a lot of disgusting shitty man out there and feminism is so so important for our world. But do y'all really think we'll get far with HATING THE OTHER HALF OF THE POPULATION?
Ever heard about equality?
I might be overreacting or misunderstanding some shit, so please, I'm open for discussion! If you disagree, let me know why :)

This whole book had TWO "nice" male characters.
I'm not saying every book needs nice male characters to be a good book, definitely not.
Hit me with the girl power please.
But you could feel how hard this book tried to make you dislike the male gender. It just threw those two in to cover that up lmao like "BUT LOOK NOT ALL MEN ARE BADDDD WE EVEN PUT A NICE ONE IN OUR STORY" ya mhm. Sure.

Okay I'm done, sorry for my rant lol.

And again, please don't take this the wrong way. I definitely consider myself a feminist. But sorry, I don't hate men.
Profile Image for emma.
1,784 reviews42.9k followers
February 23, 2022
It took me two months to read this book.

For two months, I floundered through this. For two months, I forced myself through in eight page chunks. For two months, the Kindle for Mac application was open on my laptop, with the ebook version of this existing somewhere among, like, eighteen podcasts and four tabs with Twitter open and a sh*t ton of articles about obscure pop culture tidbits.

In short: It took me two months to get through this and I almost couldn’t do even that.

There are some books that have no excuse to be boring. Some stories have such excellent synopses and concepts that they should be literally incapable of being anything but a nonstop thrill ride. This book, which centers around an island where a monster is killing girls, and so a gang of girls kill the monster and also the girls are in love, should be nothing other than exciting at every moment. There is not so much as a word of that idea that I am not interested in, or, dare I say, ENTHRALLED BY.

And yet, not for a single moment was this book anything but boring to me. Boring boring boring. A punishment to get through. Inexplicably monotonous in a nightmarish way.

For a while, this book was fully inescapable on Goodreads. Everyone was reading it and talking about it and loving (? maybe) it, and because I very much enjoy hopping on bandwagons, I TBRed it. Without actually reading that glorious synopsis. And I started reading it also without doing that.

At a certain point, I was so confused by what this was supposed to be (okay, approximately 3% of the way in) that I read the synopsis. And I got re-excited!

And then I got disappointed again. Because very little of this book is monster-fighting. A lot of it is weird, stylized, strangely descriptive writing that I did not enjoy. And characters I did not care for or understand. And a very slow-moving plot that comes to its climax so late that I did not give half a sh*t by that point.

By that point, I was just thrilled to be mere pages away by being done with it forever.

Bottom line: The best part of this book, for me, was far and away when it was finally, mercifully over.


i finished this book yesterday and was so profoundly bored by the whole thing that i legitimately forgot that i finished it. i just promptly deleted it from my brain.

review to come

currently-reading updates

i don't know what's happening but i DO know i don't really care


reading this book with no real idea of what it's about. what can I say -- I live on the edge

tbr review

I saw enough people I follow reading this book and talking about this book and TBRing this book that I am right now adding it without even reading the synopsis in full.

I know what you're thinking. "If your friends jumped off a cliff would you jump too," blah blah blah, and the answer is yeah, duh.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,610 reviews5,000 followers
April 24, 2022
This is one of those reviews that I had to sit on for a while, because I had so many things I wanted to say about this book, and I just couldn’t quite figure out how to condense them into anything even remotely resembling a sensible length of review. Sawkill Girls is being marketed fairly heavily as horror, but it’s fabulism, too, with a world so gorgeously complex that I can’t ever quite determine if I adore it or am terrified of it.

Come for a while, reads the sign at Sawkill’s ferry dock, and stay forever.

At Sawkill Rock, the beauty of the island masks a terrible, dark secret: girls keep going missing, and they’re being lost more frequently every year. Nobody knows where they go, and it’s almost become an accepted status quo among the people of the island. The atmosphere of Sawkill Rock is one of the most immersive settings I’ve ever read; I felt transported so fully into the island’s grasp that I couldn’t help the dread worsening in my gut with every chapter’s passing. Claire Legrand’s writing voice is superb here—having read previous work by her, I genuinely believe that this is where she is meant to be.

My little rock, her mother would say. My grave little mountain.

There are three main characters to this story, with chapters alternating between their perspectives, and my favorite was Marion, who broke my heart over and over again with the loss of her loved ones and, consequentially, her slackening grasp on normality. The representation in this entire book is amazing, and Marion is bisexual and fat, which is a combination I’ll never tire of (because, hello, it’s me!). These facts are dropped so casually that there’s no room for argument—there is no homophobia or body hatred, despite an occasional very brief moment of self-consciousness on Marion’s part. Beyond her appearance and sexuality, Marion is so tough, and pragmatic, and determined to keep up a strong front. I’ve always been the same way, and so, I constantly saw myself mirrored back in her character.

Don’t lose yourself to him, my darling one, Sylvia Mortimer had said. Not all of you. Keep a morsel for yourself.

Though it took me a little longer to warm up to Val Mortimer, I grew fond of her, too. She first appears as this over-simplified “queen bee” persona, but we quickly get to see a side of her that’s so much darker and more haunted than anything you’d imagine (and she’s queer, though we don’t know what her label is). There are quotes in her chapters that have haunted me since the moment I finished this book, and you should be warned that her perspectives frequently depict suicidal ideation and abuse.

Zoey’s laugh was bitter. “Oh, and we poor delicate girls are vulnerable and desperate, is that what you’re saying?”

Finally, there’s Zoey, who is black and asexual (on page—there’s an entire facet to her back story revolving around this aspect of her life), and even more than that, she’s so determined and stubborn and absolutely lovable despite being a fairly “unlikable” character. She’s stern and feisty, and while I’m not sure if she will be everyone’s cup of tea, I was delighted by her antics and unpredictability.

It did not relish tying an innocent to the burden of its ancient might. But the Rock required an infantry.

Okay… I lied, sort of. There’s a fourth character, but it’s hard to explain. The Rock gets the occasional perspective chapter, and while they’re incredibly short and typically entirely vague, they may have been my absolute favorites. These passages read so lyrically and they are so incredibly haunting. I’ve never read a book where a place was given a thinking, feeling sentience to this degree, and it adds the most amazing layer to the story.

“What I’m saying is that girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

On top of the beautiful cast of characters and the haunting atmosphere, this story is so feminist, so empowering and bold and unapologetic. I can’t tell you how strongly this parallels the real world and the ways society casts teen girls aside, nor can I describe how badly I wish I’d had this story as a teen—a story to tell me that it’s okay to be strong, and angry, and queer, and brave, and in need of another mountain to lean on.

You are mighty. You are one, and one, and one.
You are fragile. You can move mountains.
You are breakable. You will never break.
This power is mine. And now it is yours, too.

I know I said I’d keep this to a reasonable length, and I’m trying, but Sawkill Girls is one of those stories that I feel has changed me in a way. 2018 has been the year of brilliant, fiercely feminist reads for me, and this one easily joins the ranks of my favorites. I want everyone and anyone I know to pick up a copy of this gorgeous, spooky little book, because it packs such a punch, and I only hope that it will get even half of the hype it deserves.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,471 reviews19.1k followers
January 8, 2019
Y’all, this book was legitimately terrifying at certain points and I LOVED IT SO MUCH. It wasn’t a completely perfect book (hence the 4 stars), but it was so dark and whimsical and dark and queer and DID I MENTION DARK? AND QUEER? Fuck y’all this was so good. SO GOOD!
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,013 reviews46.2k followers
March 13, 2020
this is one of the hardest books i’ve read lately because the concept is VERY cool but i just... didn’t connect with it at all. didn’t like any of the characters and didn’t really care what happened to any of them :/
November 5, 2018

Little fairy girl, skipping down the sea
Little fairy girl, pretty as can be
Who is the fellow with the bright clean grin?
Do you want, fairy girl, to weave a spell for him?

Story ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
When Marion, her mother and her sister arrive in Sawkill they hear about the missing girl, Thora.
They hear about the strange and creepy forest full of darkness and danger.
They meet Zoey who hates Val Mortimer more than anyone and anything, because Zoey is sure that Val has something to do with the disappearance of her former best friend Thora. But Val is the popular beautiful girl with many friends but also many secrets.
Soon another girl is missing, but this time something is different.
This time Zoey finds Marion in the darkness and they realize that something is going on on this island. Something dark and dangerous. And they need to stop it.
When I started this book I didn’t read a summary or a review. I just started to read it.
That’s why I thought this would be a story about a girl gone missing, her best friend who searches for her and the new girl that helps her.
But I was so wrong. This story is filled with mystery, secrets, sexual tension and a frightening darkness.
It was absolutely refreshing and entertaining. And I really loved it.

Character ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I love it when a book is filled with strong women that know their value, their strengths but also their weaknesses.
And this book was full of them.
Marion - the quiet, strong and fearless daughter, sister and friend, who would sacrifice herself for the good of others.
Zoey - a smart and wild force. A girl that knows to trust her gut, to never lose your thoughts and dreams to others and who can connect the hints and dots around her faster that anyone.
And Val - a beautiful, popular girl who seems to live the perfect life. Until we realize that the things that seem so perfect are actually an absolute horror.
Each of them had a background story, a personality and her own confusing thoughts.
And what can I say?
I fell in love with this girls.
Also there was Grayson - cinnamon roll and my newly found perfect book-boyfriend.
He’s a feminist, who loves to have a tidy house and who doesn’t care about anything people talk about. He doesn’t care that the some (weird) people say that his girlfriend has to love sex. That his girlfriend can’t be asexual.
But he says “f*ck it”. He’s so in love with Zoey with all his heart that he doesn’t care about any bullshit they say. He loves her and he wants to be with her.
He’s so freaking cute, I loved him so much.
He was so brave for her, so in love with her and such a loving and caring gentleman.
Ugh, perfect book boyfriend. ♥️

World ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
When we look at the stars we hope that somewhere far away there may be another universe.
Something full of light.
Something full of magic.
But if there is magic and light, there is always danger and darkness.
There needs to be a balance.
But sometimes monsters from this far away universe find their way to our world.
They find a family, a host - desperate people that seek happiness, power or just something good to hold on to.
So he makes a deal with them, they get what their hearts desire, but they will obey the beast until it’s free of his bonds.
And so the hosts help the beast feed, blood is spread upon the earth.
And the earth, the sea, the rocks see that there are horrible things happening on his grounds.
So he shares his power with a few selected girls. Powerful extraordinary girls.
And with their help he will try to eliminate the beast.

Relationships ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
You know what i really love about our age and our generation? We’re so open up.
We don’t care who other people love, we don’t care how we love or if we love someone.
We don’t care if their bisexual, homosexual, asexual, transgender or whatever.
We accept the people for who they are.
Three different girls who’re not only separated by looks but also by something else.
One is bisexual, one homosexual and one is asexual.
And that was so freakin awesome.
I haven’t read any good diverse book in a long time. And that book is now one of my favorite diversity books on my shelves.
The way we get to experience the sexuality of this women - the insecurity, the thoughts, the fear.
And you know what I love even more?
Strong friendship in a book.
People that know that sometimes we need to accept, forgive, forget. We need to see that we need each other no matter what.
That together we’re stronger, we’re unstoppable and we’re not alone.
And I loved the friendship in this book so much.

Writing style ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The story is told in three - maybe three and a half POVs. Marion, Val, Zoey and sometimes a glimpse of the thoughts of the rock.
Sometimes we see bits of the past, story’s that are told, songs that were made up.
We get to know the girls one by one and we see how they get together, how they hate, fight, talk and love. We experience all their thoughts and feelings in a beautiful opened up way.
I really liked the way the story was told. In some way it made you even more interested, sometimes it made you smile and sometimes you felt like you read a horror book.
But all in all it was a really refreshing and enjoyable experience and I can definitely recommend the book.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
515 reviews34.4k followers
September 1, 2021
I’m on BookTube now! =)

”Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.
He’ll follow you home and won’t let you sleep.”

Trigger warnings:

This sounds like the perfect horror book, right? Well, yes and no. “Sawkill Girls” is one of those books that have a rather deceiving blurb and when I read the summary I thought that I’d be in for a very creepy read. I mean yes, this book was creepy at times but it was also so much more than that. Quite honestly I never expected to get so invested and to love it that much when I picked it up. I thought it would be one of those books you read in between when you want something different but in the end it was the book that had all my attention. And this is no easy feat. ;-)

”There was a magnetism to the Mortimer women, and they knew it, and they used it. It was their right, this witchery; they’d given up their souls for it.”

The sheer amount of topics that was tackled in here had my head spinning and I totally loved all the characters. Those three girls were amazing and even though they were all so different and didn’t always get along this was one of the things that really made me want to continue to read the book. There were a lot of moments when I couldn’t predict the story line and to say this was super intriguing would be putting it mildly! I love when an author manages to surprise me and Claire Legrand certainly did. Truth be told, this book is actually pretty dark at times and there were some scenes that creeped me out big time.

The three main characters were all very interesting as well and I loved how Legrand managed to make me pull for them even though they all had their flaws and were pretty morally grey. Especially Valerie and Zoey were two MCs that weren’t all too likable, yet I still loved them for just being who they were.

”Val swayed where she stood, her eyes falling shut. A fierce warmth expanded in her chest and slid down her belly, her thighs, her legs. Her traitorous body – groomed to serve him, birthed to anchor him – responded gleefully to his approval.”

Another thing that totally caught me off guard was the fact that “Sawkill Girls” was super diverse and even had LGBTQ+ reps. I mean we have Zoey who is black and asexual, Marion who is bisexual and has curves and Val who is pan or bi (at least I got the impression that she is). As someone who’s always watching out for LGBTQ+ books I was very surprised when I figured that this book actually has decent LGBTQ+ reps. I never read this in any of the other reviews so I decided to mention it in mine. ;-)

Zoey’s laugh was bitter. “Oh, and we poor delicate girls are vulnerable and desperate, is that what you’re saying?”
“What I’m saying,” Marion said, now looking right at Zoey, her gray eyes bright, “is that girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

And this automatically brings me to all the other important topics that were addressed in here. I loved how the topic of misogyny wasn’t only addressed but also challenged. No matter if it’s Val, Marion or Zoey, they all have a “no bullshit” attitude when it comes to men telling women what to do. *lol* I totally loved that about them and I was so happy when they put those misogynistic men in their place and gave them a piece of their mind. It’s surprising how well it all fit with the horror element of the Collector abusing, violating and suppressing the Mortimer women for so many years and feasting on the pure souls of innocent girls. You really gotta give Legrand kudos for inventing such a multi-layered story around the initial horror element that started it all.

Also can we appreciate the fierce friendships in this book! I loved the strong friendship between Zoey and Marion and the closeness between Zoey and Greyson. Those characters would have done everything for each other and this even though they weren’t always on speaking terms. Still, true friends will stick with you no matter what and this was exactly the kind of message this book spread. =)

”Come for a while, reads the sign at Sawkill’s ferry dock, and stay forever.”

All told I really loved this and enjoyed the story immensely! I was pleasantly surprised by how attached I got to these characters and by how strongly I pulled for them. If you’re looking for a moderately creepy Halloween read, if you love books with strong female characters and decent LGBTQ+ reps, if you like atmospheric books, well I guess then you’ll enjoy this one as well. =)


Now this book came as a surprise!
I never expected I’d get THAT invested but I actually enjoyed it A LOT!
This was great! XD Girl power FTW! *lol*

Full RTC soon! Stay tuned and don’t run away from the island! ;-P

It’s time to tackle the last book that’s still left of My Library Book Haul! Maybe once I finished that one I’ll go for another book haul and video. ;-)

Anyway! I’m so curious about this one and if it will be able to live up to my expectations. I rarely read in the YA horror genre but I gotta admit that the promise of “Sawkill Girls” has me intrigued.

I’m a scaredy fox though so I can’t help but wonder if I’ll have to read this during the day. *lol*
Did you already read this book and if yes, did you like it? =)
Profile Image for  ••Camila Roy••.
161 reviews49 followers
July 10, 2018
RATING: 2.75 rounded up to 3/5

Let me start by saying that I LOVE horror. Spooky, creepy and bizarre is my aesthetic. Supernatural shows are my thing; I can't get enough of them. So, when I read this book's synopsis I was definitely intrigued. Plus, Claire Legrand is the author (she wrote Furyborn, one of my favorite books of the year).

As it turns out, Sawkill Girls wasn't for me. I considered raising my rating just for the sake of being polite. I didn't want other people to get discouraged from reading this because of me. Later, I realized that I have to be honest and objective. My opinion might not be popular but that doesn't mean I shouldn't share it.

What I liked:
1) The LGBTQ representation was great. Asexuality is not often seen in YA. I'm happy with the way it was portrayed, it seemed very realistic. There's also a gay and a bisexual character.
2) The plot wasn't very original but it was solid. I'm certain that the author put a lot of thought into it and tried her best to make it unique.

What I didn't like:
1) The pacing felt off. Stuff was happening but I didn't feel excited or intrigued. I hate using the term 'boring' but there isn't another way to describe it.
2) There were three main characters: Val, Zoey and Marion. I didn't like any of them. They seemed really plain and, once again, boring. None of them had much personality. The same could be said for all the side characters.
3) The tone of the story seemed to change. First it was magical and mysterious, then it got darker and then it just got weird (and not in an enjoyable way). I skimmed the last 30% because I just wanted it to be over.

In conclusion, this wasn't my cup of tea but it could be yours! Most of the people who have read this rated it 4 or 5 stars. This was just my opinion. If the premise interests you, give this a shot.

758 reviews2,358 followers
March 10, 2019
Hi. I'm a liar and said I would write a review but I'm too lazy so I'll just say this:

There was some bird box type shit goin on at some point in this book and I WAS HERE FOR IT!!! G i r l s came together to fight off evil monsters and developed such beautiful relationships with each other and skakskfjskdjdj it was so pure and beautiful and I love.

Also, there's asexual (I think that's the correct term? Or was it ace? I forgot it's been over a month) representation and gay girls!!!!!! I was so happy I love them all okay bye.


this sounds so amazing and I'm finally going to read it!!! queer girls and horror? my favorite.

buddy read with Maggie 💕
Profile Image for tappkalina.
628 reviews382 followers
September 3, 2021
“Why do the monsters eat girls?” she asked at last. Her voice sounded small.
When Marion didn’t answer, Zoey turned on her side to face her. “Marion?”
“Because,” Marion answered, looking beyond Zoey to the sea, “when a predator hunts, it seeks out the vulnerable. The desperate.”
Zoey’s laugh was bitter. “Oh, and we poor delicate girls are vulnerable and desperate, is that what you’re saying?”
“What I’m saying,” Marion said, now looking right at Zoey, her gray eyes bright, “is that girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

I actually dnf'd this a few months ago, but who can say no to a horror book with sapphics? Not me, that's for sure.
So I picked up the audiobook.
And it was a-ma-zing! The narrator is stunning.

It's not my genre, but I would say I liked the story. Although what made this one of my favourite reads this year are the characters. Every one of them.
I thought Marion is the new girl who figures thing out, Val is the evil queen bee and Zoey is the outcast; and that's it.
Wow, I was wrong. They are so much more than these stereotypes.
Marion lost so much, Val (probably my favourite character) doesn't and can't live her own life and Zoey is mad because no one believes her. Plus we have Grayson the cinnamon roll.

Lot of things that happened were so anti-women, but these girls sad: absolutely not! We sure as hell won't go down without a fight!

Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
852 reviews3,760 followers
May 16, 2019
Enjoyed the creepiness, the quick pacing, the girl power, and the individual girls. Got a little weird at the end.

Audio: To be fair, the narrator's solo performance deserves 5 stars. She carried it all on her own, doing creepy voices when needed. But I couldn't help thinking the entire time that this book truly deserved the production treatment that And the Trees Crept In's audiobook was given - sounds, music, and actual voice distortion - because this story had a similar tone. So while it was excellent, I could also imagine it being so much more.

Representation: asexual & Black MC, f/f romance

tw: horse death, parent death, sibling death, child death, gore, actual demons, doppelgangers, religious cult, something similar to possession, acephobia.
December 29, 2021

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DNF @ 18%

There's been an increase in horror novels being targeted at young women and I'm super into that, because they tend to be less focused on gore and more on psychological and atmospheric elements, which are the two things that I really love in my horror stories when I choose to read them. It's more Gothic and less, you know, splatterpunk.

I've read four such books pretty recently. WHAT BIG TEETH, WILDER GIRLS, HOUSE OF HOLLOW, and now SAWKILL GIRLS. I loved HoH, I really liked WBT, I hated WG, and I was really bored by SG, sadly. It's not the worst of the lot but it felt very over-written to me because unlike some of the other stories, which gradually build up to the dark reveal, we're spoiled pretty early on into seeing what's really happening and then we're just expected to sit around and wait while it unfolds. I think my friend jade said it best in their review, when they describe the pacing as "glacial." There's three POVs and they're all filled with this purple prose style of writing that I might have liked when I was fourteen but feels slightly embarrassing now. I tried to stick it out but I'm not feeling this one. Your mileage may vary.

2 stars
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
653 reviews3,841 followers
March 1, 2019
does anyone else feel like YA fantasy has been kinda dropping the ball lately? Because I'm here to report yet ANOTHER one has let me down and I don't know who to blame at this point.

“Beware the woods and the dark, dank, deep. He'll follow you home, and he won't let you sleep.”

Sawkill Girls is a fantasy horror set on Sawkill Island - where an unusual and alarming amount of young girls go missing without a trace. No bodies, no word, no clues. When Zoey's best friend becomes the next missing girl - she decides it's time to find out what is happening on Sawkill once and for all.

We follow three main characters, whose lives on the Island begin to intertwine as they confront the islands hidden secrets, and the evil that lurks in the shadows.

🌲 Zoey Our main character - Island inhabitant who lost her best friend and wants to know what happened. Notoriously called out Val for stealing her best friend, and will do anything to find out what happened to her. She is asexual, black, and attracted to both girls and boys. Her father is also the town sheriff, and her ex Grayson plays a role in the book.

🌲 Valerie/Val The islands queen bee who comes from a long line of wealthy women who live on the island. She has a secret and is part of a dark family legacy she cannot escape. She is also sapphic, but doesn't have a label.

🌲 Marion A new comer to the island. She moves to Sawkill with her sister, but soon becomes embroiled with the mystery of Sawkill Island. She becomes friends with both Zoey and Val, and is part of an f/f relationship in this book.

“Tragedy had touched Sawkill, again and again and again, but after each girl’s disappearance, once a respectable amount of time had passed, everyone seemed to stop caring.”

First of all, there is plenty to like here. Sawkill Girls is the spooky, atmospheric horror book that is perfect for cuddling down in bed with around Halloween. Legrand did a good job at constructing atmosphere here, and bringing a creepy aesthetic to the book - which included moth infested rooms, dark things crawling in the woods, scattered human body parts, demon children and plenty of blood, gore and trauma. There were parts of this book which genuinely creeped me out, especially those involving demon entities, and I really liked that this book managed to creep me out a little.

I also really enjoyed the romances and relationships in this. The f/f relationship is WONDERFUL and I really loved how literally every character in this was sapphic. The romance was sweet and while it wasn't a major part of the story, it was there just enough to keep me happy and satisfied. The secondary relationship between Grayson and Zoey, which isn't really a romance but is more a friendship where they used to be exes was also GREAT. I love seeing exes in books because I feel it is so rare, and I adored their dynamic and friendship SO much.

But for me what just didn't work was the characters, and part two.

The characters were enjoyable to read about, but I didn't find myself particular invested in them. This may be because of the audiobook narrator, but I often found myself mixing them up and forgetting which one was which, and what their story or role was. Marion and Zoey especially I was getting mixed up.

I also think part two of this book relied a lot on me being invested in and believed in their frienship as a trio which .. I wasn't feeling so much. While I think it was there, it didn't pull me in to the degree I would have liked, and I didn't feel convinced by what Legrand was putting down in this.

I also found part two extremely predictable. While I loved the set up in part one, and the mystery elements, the second part didn't really stick the landing for me. The major plot points were obvious, and some felt a little cliche. There was really only one scene in part two I REALLY REALLY LOVED and the rest I just enjoyed, but didn't feel particularly strongly on.

“Decades of dead girls. Poor girls and rich girls. Black and brown and white girls. All of them Sawkill girls.”

That all being said, I think this is a book many could love. Even though I'm giving it a three star (which still means I liked it) I would 100% recommend it. This did have a really enjoyable set up and some great, creepy, atmospheric writing and scenes. The romances were wonderful, and there wasn't anything wrong with the plot - it just didn't grab me as much as I needed to rate it higher. But if you like creepy books - and if you liked books like Strange the Dreamer or even The Raven Boys I think you could definitely like this !

Profile Image for Hamad.
972 reviews1,284 followers
August 22, 2018
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

"Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep."

🌟 To do this book right I have to admit that I went into it not expecting a horror story and by no means it was one. But I was checking GR and searching online and I saw many readers listed it as a horror book but Edelweiss -Thanks for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review- did not, so my expectations kind of changed while I was reading it which was kind of bad.

🌟 This book started very good and then it lost some of the magic gradually till the end. I read 100 pages when I started this in one sitting which is something I don’t usually do. I heard mixed thing about Legrand writing but I found that I liked it… At least at the beginning.

🌟 Toward the end what really happened is that I felt the author was trying so hard and it was kind of slow and boring, I usually speed through the last pages in all books because I want to know what happens and fast. I found myself wanting it to end here so I was reading, not caring what could happen. The problem is that many of the twists were revealed early in the book and every thing was clear from the start so the excitement factor dissipated early and it became kind of repetitive.

🌟 I also found that it was kind of confusing at some points but I didn’t know if that was the book or if I wasn’t concentrating enough due to the boredom.

🌟 That being said, it was not bad as to DNF or even considering doing so. I mean it was average to good but it had more potential for sure.

🌟 This is also another book that has 3 girls as the main characters and it is feminine and empowers girls..etc which I am totally fine with. But what I am not totally fine with is that girls being powerful and great does not mean that all guys are bad and smelly and stupid. Both Genders can do anything. I am bothered by this concept that I touched in this book and IRL.

🌟 Summary and prescription: A good book with a wide cast of female characters. It was also a LGBTQ diverse book with many different sexualities. Great for those looking for a feminine read.
And could have more potential in my opinion.

“Decades of dead girls. Poor girls and rich girls. Black and brown and white girls. All of them Sawkill girls.”

🌟 When I first started this I wanted to give it 4 stars, then it changed to 3.5 and after 2 days of reading I decided that 3.25 is the rating I am most comfortable with.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 5 books13.5k followers
April 25, 2021
“Or maybe, Zoey thought darkly, legends about monsters weren’t so funny when girls were actually dying.”

We all have these unread books that we've been making love eyes at for years but somehow still never got around to reading them. Books where we just somehow know we're gonna end up liking them. This was Sawkill Girls for me. It gave me This Darkness Mine and Wilder Girls vibes, two of my favourite books in recent years. Both were dark and gritty with complex, unlikeable female protagonists. Sawkill Girls did not end up meeting all my expectations. To be fair, the bar was set super high.

Now, the beginning is the strongest part of the book. It sets the obscure, grim, unwelcoming mood and introduces three very different, very compelling main characters. Marion: grief-stricken und lonely. Zoey: ferocious and headstrong. Val: gorgeous and ice cold. A big plus is that all three girls are super queer. It promised to be a character-driven mystery novel...but it didn't fulfil that promise. The POVs started blending into each other, became messier, lost their strong individual voice. It turned out to be a fast-paced and plot-driven novel instead. Which isn't bad, I just prefer the former.

Plotwise it is again an awesome setup that becomes messier the more it develops. The mystery aspect was soon lost because the many POVs tell us everything we want to know. There isn't really much left to discover after a while. I personally found the secret cult very stereotypical and cheap. It threw me off because it felt out of place and slightly illogical at the same time. Overall, I think it's a great concept (that inspired me to write my own dark island fantasy story) but the execution isn't as strong as I wished it were.

Thumbs up for the very sapphic content and the discussion of asexuality. We don't get that in a lot of YA books (yet - I'm counting the minutes until Loveless finally finds its way into my grabby hands).

Three stars because even though it isn't the most convincing read, I still enjoyed the story and found it very enigmatic and sinister.

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Profile Image for alana ♡.
638 reviews1,235 followers
July 31, 2019
Drop everything and add this to your October TBR's immediately.

If you like creepy, atmospheric books with badass females that keep you on the edge of your seat then look no further than Sawkill Girls. Earlier this year I read Claire Legrand's novel Furyborn and loved it. From her writing, to her characters, to her world-building I was instantly sucked into the story. So, naturally when I came across that the author was coming out with a new YA Fantasy/Horror novel with LGBT+ rep I couldn't add it to my TBR fast enough. Now here we are, on publication day and all I can do scream from the rooftops about how good this was.

Sawkill Girls is told through four different POV's and short chapters, which means you're going to have trouble putting this down. I absolutely adored all three of our leading ladies, Marion, Val, and Zoey. Three fierce feminists with three extraordinary powers. How could you not love them already? If you asked me to choose I honestly don't think I could give you a straight answer on who I loved more, but here's a quick rundown:

-Zoey, the driving force behind solving the mystery of the missing girls of Sawkill, is black and asexual with a backstory included. It was super nice to read Zoey's backstory instead of having the asexual rep dropped in just for the sake of including it. 10 points for you, Ms. Legrand.

-Val, the queen bee, who reminded me so much of Jennifer from the movie Jennifer's Body is hoarding years and years worth of secrets kept by her family. It's mentioned in the story that she mainly dates boys, however, as the story progresses she beings to have feelings for one

-Marion, the newbie to Sawkill, who is quickly losing her grip on what's real and what's not, is labeled as bisexual and fat. The fat rep is probably some of the best I've ever read. There's really no negativity towards Marion's size and I was LIVING for it. Marion's POV was always very interesting to read because as the story progressed you began to question if what she was experiencing was real or not.

And last but not least, our fourth POV...

-The Rock. Yes, you read that right. Technically, a piece of land had a POV in this story and it was genius. The Rock's "chapters" were never more than a page or two, but it's POV was so beautifully written that it made this book even harder to put down.

On top of the awesome characters, we were also blessed with some great side characters. I LOVED Zoey's father and Grayson (Zoey's ex but still best friend). I was not let down one bit with the world building. If I didn't risk the chance of being abducted Sawkill would definitely be a place I would want to live, or at least visit. The creepy level in this was just the right amount too. At one point I actually had to put the book down because it was 1am and I heard some noises outside and was creeped the hell out. There were also a few times I physically shuddered while reading this. You can expect lots of bugs...and maybe even a little horse hair too. 😰

Favorite Quotes

Decades of dead girls. Poor girls and rich girls. Black and brown and white girls.
All of them Sawkill girls.

“What I’m saying is that girls hunger. And we’re taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn’t enough food for us all.”

Pain is pain. It's not a contest.

In New Jersey, it was the Jersey devil. On Sawkill Rock, it was the Collector.

^ I thought this was interesting because most people don't talk about the Jersey Devil, but then I read that the author is from NJ and it made complete sense. Us Jersey girls gotta stick together.

All in all, if you like creepy, atmospheric, feminist stories, Sawkill Girls is not one you want to pass up. Plus, I mean, it's not like you need to wait for the book to come out. Head on over to your bookstore today because Sawkill Girls is officially out on shelves ready to creep you the F out.

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Profile Image for jade.
489 reviews276 followers
March 2, 2021
“beware the woods and the dark, dank, deep
he’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.”

a modern young adult horror about three teenage girls on an island who grapple with death, grief, loss… and an ancient being that’s been violently snatching away young girls.

i’ll be honest: this book was not for me.

the premise, set-up and themes all sounded like it would be right up my alley; a feminist take on a stephen king IT kind of story? perfection. but unfortunately i couldn’t get over the clunky prose and the incredibly simplistic, on-the-nose and over-the-top ‘exploration’ of its core themes.

at a certain point, my reading experience deteriorated so much that i was reading it purely to gather material for my list of Strangest Metaphors I’ve Ever Read.

so let’s delve into it.

this story is about sawkill rock, an island somewhere off the coast. its population consists primarily of rich white folk. most notably one matriarchal family in particular, which brings us our first protagonist: valerie. in all aspects she represents the Classical Teenage Queen Bee: tall, slim, white, pretty, blond hair and blue eyes, and ridiculously popular.

then we have zoey, daughter of the local chief of police: a punk-rock angry half-black girl with orange streaks in her hair. her best friend thora disappeared, and she’s been trying to investigate that disappearance using her father’s resources.

there is also beef between valerie and zoey: zoey’s friendship with thora was broken up by valerie, and then thora disappeared right after she got cozy with valerie and zoey couldn’t do anything about it.

new to the island is marion, whose mom is to be a housekeeper for valerie’s family. marion just lost her father, and feels like Something Is Not Quite Right With Sawkill. then marion’s older sister starts hanging out a lot with valerie, only to disappear a few weeks after…

though the story starts off strong, introducing us to these three main protagonists and illustrating the uncanny creepiness of the setting, it almost immediately sizzles out. the pace becomes glacial as the three girls stumble about and do very little.

you’d expect a horror story about investigating and then fighting a monster to portray more urgency and tension, but there is none. i was bored out of my skull for most of it. thanks to a certain POV in the book, you’re very aware early on of what kind of evil the protags are facing and what its plans are, and then you just… sit there and watch them unfold.

the horror elements here are still very cool: we have creepy animals, sentient rocks, unexplainable powers, urban legends, and even weird cults.

however, a lot of these elements feel very scattered and often lack a direct connection to the main Big Bad Evil. it feels messy, in a way, because a lot of scary stuff makes no sense in the grand scheme of things. half of them only seem thrown in purely because they’d be frightening, and even take tension away from the progression of the main plot.

the other half is very obviously inserted Because Theme; the girls have individual symbols and strengths, and though i liked the effort it almost felt too glaringly obvious. not to mention that, again, a lot of this stuff remains unexplained.

speaking of glaringly obvious: the main theme of this book revolves around the way our society treats and views women. which, to be honest, is a trend in the horror genre that i appreciate, and which can be a great source of allegories and working through trauma. an off-shoot of this theme is female solidarity, and having teenage girls work together rather than being pitted against each other.

but though it is a theme that is initially only alluded to, it gets incredibly on-the-nose about halfway through the book. this is the point where we’re introduced to such a hokey plot twist that it nearly made me chuck my book against the wall (which i didn’t, because my e-reader wouldn’t have survived).

it’s honestly such a pity, because i feel the incredibly over-the-top reveal cheapens the theme and the message of this novel. i just couldn’t take it seriously anymore at this point, because the incredible suspension of disbelief that was necessary for it to work was something i was unable to conjure.

but now for my biggest gripe: the writing.

oh god, the writing. at some points, it’s totally okay. at others, it’s all about dramatically employing figurative sayings and then adding ANOTHER layer of metaphor on top of that while liberally sprinkling around both commas and Edgy Girl Power Adjectives.

i can’t even do it justice. here’s a few examples so you can judge it on your own.
“val's spine snapped to attention, all hungry teeth and whetted knives and manacled rows of bones.”
there we have it. 10/10 on the edgy girl power scale. i actually love the whole ‘manacled rows of bones’ but teeth and knives in my spine is less… fortunate.
“red flags flapped in zoey's deepest gut like taut sheaths of skin.”
this gave me the weirdest visual in a long, long time. i still don’t quite know how to visualize either the physicality or the emotional feeling of it. i mean, the uncanny sense of red flags i can do, but described like this? No, sorry.
“marion welcomed the sound. she imagined her body opening to receive it. she was not a girl of dense muscle and clumsy bones. she was a network of air-filled tubes, of inflating balloons. she was a symphony warming up before the big night.”
again a visual that just completely fucks me up. it starts out just fine, and then devolves into… that. air-filled tubes receiving sound, i can get behind. but inflating balloons? i also associate a symphony orchestra warming up before the big night with things like nervous, hyped, focused energy, which doesn’t appear to be the right emotion here -- but that could be my fault entirely.
“but marion liked the work. it occupied her cells and kept them from endlessly spinning.”
at this point, i’m 100% convinced that there is something very very wrong with marion’s anatomy.
“the world shifted, like a cube squeezing through another cube to emerge whole and immense on the other side.”
this one probably isn’t quite so bad, but again we have a visual that just completely and utterly cracked me up. this is supposed to be a deeply otherworldly and surrealist scene and this… is not very scary? also, if a cube is the same size of another cube and they pass through each other, why would the first cube be ‘immense’ on the other side??
“then he began to hurt her, with his fists and his words, because that was all he knew how to do. because he was powerful and she was not. because he was man and she was not.”
i’m kind of cheating and picking this one not because of the confusing visual, but because this is supposed to be an incredibly tragic culmination of both someone’s past AND the book’s central theme. and yet it’s a perfect illustration of how on-the-nose it gets, as well as how awkwardly it’s written even though it’s meant to evoke empathy, pain, and tragedy.

okay, the circus is over. moving on.

an aspect i’ve yet to touch upon are the characters. unfortunately, a lot of them are very one note. i couldn’t tell you much about any of them in terms of personal goals; they’re cardboard cut-outs from Standard Teenage Stereotypes playing their roles. zoey, though, has the most personality, even if she is the classic punk-rock kid.

the representation in this is plenty diverse, which is definitely an upside. though it is kind of annoying that zoey is the only mixed black girl here, and her brown skin is always just described as ‘brown’ whereas the white-skinned characters get all the ‘pretty’ adjectives added to skin descriptions.

anyway, we have asexual representation (big warning for acephobia, though, even if it gets called out instantly), mentions of being gay and/or bisexual, and girls being attracted to and/or falling in love with other girls. the main romance is f/f and even though i would count it as insta-love, i guess it’s kinda sweet in the end?

at the end of the day, my conclusion is this: i need to stop reading YA horror novels because they somehow always disappoint me. i love the core idea of this book, but its execution left me stranded like a lonely pile of hollow broken bones on a brittle white beach.

read it if you’re into weird metaphors and girl power narratives with a whole lot of nothing and then only a little bit of monster-killing. beware, though, because the climax is a bit of an anti-climax as well.

1.5 stars.
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
612 reviews625 followers
September 24, 2019
Video Review

This is such a strange little book and I had a hard time getting into it. I almost DNFed it, not because I thought it was bad but because I felt it wouldn't be for me. And the setting and storyline really wasn't for me.
But at its core this story is about feminism, female friendship, and love and it made me super emotional.

“Girls hunger. And we're taught, from the moment our brains can take it, that there isn't enough food for us all.”

Let's talk about diversity!
Val is queer and has had relationships with guys and a relationship with a girl during the book. Marion is plus-size and also queer. It is stated that in the past she had crushes on both guys and girls. Zoey is black and asexual.

I loved all of the characters so much. They really carried this novel for me. The three girls at the centre of this story are all so wonderful and so different. This is one of those stories where you can probably recognize yourself in at least one of them and I love that.
The way these girls work together and fight together, the way they work through their differences, through so much hard stuff keeping them apart, wanting them to fail.. it's honestly beautiful because all the odds are against them in so many ways. But they end up having the most wonderful friendship.
And while this book has a whole lot of shitty men in it, there is one male character, Grayson, Zoey's best friend and love interest, who was the sweetest soft boy in the whole world and I wanna protect him at all costs. The relationship between him and Zoey was lovely and talked about some really important aspects.

There is also a beautiful, so so so sossososoooo beautiful f/f romance in this book. I don't have words for how beautiful. This relationship meant a whole bunch to me and I think it's gonna mean a whole bunch for a lot of (teenage) girls out there. Bless praise Twenty GayTeen!
This also features one of the best sex scenes in YA. The fact that we are living in a time where we get the gift of such a well-written, non-explicit sex scene between two girls in YA left me absolutely speechless.

I would say the ace representation was overall well done and there was such an important conversation around it, but if you are on the ace-spectrum yourself, please tread carefully. There is one huge acephobic statement in this book and while it was immediately challenged and apologized for, I know this is gonna be hard to read for some people.
There are A LOT of other triggers in this book and I honestly couldn't even catch them all but here are some trigger and content warnings: murder (and pretty gruesome ones), blood, gore, parental abuse, violence, sexual abuse and honestly the threat of sexual assault just kinda hangs in the air constantly.

“You are a small girl. You are mighty. You are fragile. You can move mountains. You are breakable. You will never break.”

I think this book is absolutely perfect if you're looking for a creepy read for October that is a little different. It will creep you the fuck out but it will also make you feel a lot of good things.
Ultimately for me this book didn't score because of it's atmosphere, setting, storyline or pretty writing but simply because of how it celebrated girls. How it shows that we are stronger together, better together. Society can tell us all they want about what we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to feel, but if we stick together, we are the strongest fucking force out there.

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I received an ARC of this through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Amitaf0208.
159 reviews33 followers
January 13, 2019
3.5 stars. There is a mix of genres going on in this one book. At times, it was exhilarating while at times, it was also frustrating. Overall, I did enjoy the ride and the ending.
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,695 reviews654 followers
October 10, 2019
“Theirs was not a world that was often kind to women.”

I read the Sawkills Girls for the Goodreads Ladies of Horror Fiction discussion.

Sawkill Girls is the story of three teenage girls who come together to face an ancient evil. It’s also about friendships and families and duty and the daily aches and pains and confusion that teenagers face.

Marion, her sister and her mom have relocated to Sawkill to start a new life after the death of the girls’ father. Sawkill is an isolated place inhabited by mostly wealthy people but Marion seems ready to start anew but things go so terrible wrong.

Zoey’s best friend is one of many girls who have disappeared on Sawkill. Zoey isn’t towing the line spouted by the residents who aren’t terribly alarmed by the disappearance. They assume she fell off a cliff and leave it at that. Zoey won’t let things go even when her police officer father insists she must. She snoops and she sniffs out trouble!

Val is the town beauty. The high school Queen Bee whose “smile was made of diamonds and bee stings”. Everyone falls under Val’s spell except for Zoey. Zoey blames Val for the loss of her missing friend.

So those are the girls. How they interact and the things that are uncovered make up the rest of the story and I was hooked for the first 2/3’s. There were some truly creeptastic scenes here, especially those with the devilish little “boy”. The atmosphere is also fantastic. The island breathes dread, drips spiders (ahhh!) and the reader is kept off kilter for quite a bit. I loved that. The writing is engaging and the characters are multi-faceted and, best of all, no one person is terrible and no one person is perfect. I loved that too. The only thing that I didn’t love was the insta-love relationship between two of the characters that seemed to have no believable build-up beforehand. I get it. They’re teens and lust happens but this didn’t feel real. Give us a little build-up first! There wasn’t any attraction noted before the big kiss. That always bugs me and feels like a cheat.

Somewhere around the 2/3 mark things started to drag for me. I’m guessing it’s because the action took over and I’m not a huge action fan so this is on me and my personal preferences. I’d easily recommend it to someone looking for a young adult horror novel with well-drawn characters. I'm giving it a three which means "I liked it" according to the Goodreads scale up there so please don't try to change my opinion in the comments which seems to happen on most of my 3 star reviews because I will get grouchy!
Profile Image for Karima chermiti.
788 reviews153 followers
November 29, 2018

Actual rating : 2.5 stars

What could I say about this one, I don’t know, I’m deeply confused? I can’t seem to be able to make up my mind about this book and honestly it’s annoying me. This book belongs to that area when I don’t love a book and I don’t hate it either, I feel no attachment to it and yet it’s stuck on my mind. But to be fair, it’s stuck in my mind because of all of the weird shit that was happening and wasn’t properly explained. It felt like a vision or a dream sequence. It was odd.

I’ve just read The Deepest Roots and I find Sawkill Girls quite similar to it. I mean let’s break it down :

 Both books revolves around three female characters who are not what they seem to be
 Both books explores female friendship in its beauty and complexity
 Both books gives the female characters space to reveal themselves to the readers and it’s all about female empowerment and girls standing together and supporting each other which is great

A girl with incredible strength.
A girl who can vanish.
A girl who burns.

But here’s where both diverge, The Deepest Roots has more meaningful and believable relationships between its female characters and they feel more grounded in reality for me. I certainly loved them more than Val, Marion and Zoey. Also The Deepest Roots didn’t dwell too much on its weird shit and focused more on the human relationships while Sawkill girls gave us good dynamics but they felt rushed and the nonsensical things that were happening didn’t make sense at times. The supernatural in deepest roots was explained in a classic yet convincing way whereas in Sawkill girls, the author throw things at you and doesn’t bother to come up with something good.

Decades of dead girls. Poor girls and rich girls. Black and brown and white girls.
All of them Sawkill girls.

In other terms, if you’re looking for a book about meaningful female relationships and great character arcs, maybe you’d want to read the deepest roots before this one, in my opinion.

But let’s stop with the comparisons and focus more on the Sawkill girls.

My main problem with this book is that the things that were great about it from one angle were totally bothersome from another one. Take for an example the female relationship in this book; it is complex, strong and beautifully intense but it develops too quickly and it doesn’t give you the time to take it in or appreciate it.

The romance was another thing that was done well in this book but was it? I’m torn about this element because it’s an f/f romance and we don’t see a lot of those in YA books so I appreciate that it exists and I love that it felt true and liberating for both characters but it develops suddenly.

Everything great about this book is followed by a BUT. The dynamics were captivating but they needed more time to develop naturally. The romance was appreciated and it made complete sense for Val and Marion to be drawn to each other but considering the circumstances surrounding it, it left me feeling cold.

Also, did anyone notice those little comments especially at the end of the book about men and how they’re all assholes like at every chance the author got? You know I love the fact that it’s a book about girl power and about women fighting to change their lives and to take matters in their own hands but we don’t have to view every single man as the enemy to achieve that.

I feel like I kept talking only about the bad things, in my defense, they’re many but let’s talk about something that I really loved, Zoey’s character, her arc and her representation as an asexual black girl. I loved Zoey’s chapters so much and I loved her spirit and how consistent her character felt through the whole book. she was my favorite character in the entire book and her relationship with her boyfriend/best friend is so good and it evolved and grew in a convincing way.

I know that this book has a great spirit and the positive things it tried to portray are things that I support wholeheartedly but it had some glaring problems too. Bummer, it could’ve been a favorite.

but let's end this review on a positive note with this great quote

You must keep fighting.
You must never stop fighting.
You must light the path for others to find their footing


This book is exhausting


Rating and Review to come cause I'm too drained to do anything.
Profile Image for Ellen Gail.
826 reviews369 followers
September 6, 2020

“With prose as fierce and uncompromising as its three main characters, SAWKILL GIRLS is a fresh and unflinching exploration of female friendship wrapped in a spine-tingling page-turner. Claire Legrand doesn’t hold back--and you won’t be able to put this book down.”
-- Courtney Summers

She resisted the urge to run her hands over her own arms, torso, face, just to make sure it was all there. It was magnificent, this body - not because it was beautiful and strong, though it was, but because it was hers.

This is a list of things you will find in Sawkill Girls:

*a compelling mixture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, X-Men, and Elle Woods.

*yes, Elle Woods. I will defend that comparison till my dying breath.

*moths. so many moths.

*an unflinchingly feminist narrative - it's not subtle, but I don't think that's what it's going for

*Grayson, my current and future book husband. He can come clean my kitchen any day.

*hidden rooms

*girls who are fierce and sad and loving and sharp

*girls as prey

*girls as predators

"This is a book about girls--girls loving girls, girls kissing girls, girls being friends with girls, girls helping girls. Girls who hunger, girls who rage. Girls who fight, girls who make mistakes, girls who dream and pine. It's also about magic and monsters, family secrets and soul-friends, moths and wild horses and the churning wild sea, and trampling the patriarchy. I hope you love it as much as I do." - Claire Legrand

Maybe it was the writer in her, who believed even the tallest tales were rooted in truth.
Or maybe, Zoey thought darkly, legends about monsters weren't so funny when girls were actually dying.

This is a list of things you will NOT find in Sawkill Girls:

*flawless characters. Zoey could be a downright asshole sometimes, Marion was rigid to the point of shattering, and Val was...Val. No one gets a pass or has their flaws glossed over. It's okay that they're messy.

*forced cheerfulness - Sawkill Girls is comfortable being melancholy, in letting its characters explore grief and pain

*easy apologies

*bloodless carnage - The story isn't gratuitous but it can be graphic. But it makes sure each slash of a claw or swing of a fist is impactful.

Decades of dead girls. Poor girls and rich girls. Black and brown and white girls. All of them Sawkill girls.

Overall, Sawkill Girls is creepy and fascinating, an emotional and brutal story of friendship, monsters, powers (both supernatural and mortal), and the infinite capabilities of girls.

Big thanks to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for the drc!
- All quotes come from proof copy and are subject to change -
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