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The Dead and the Dark

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Courtney Gould’s thrilling debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places―and people―you didn’t expect.

The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won't stay hidden any longer.

Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV's ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there's more secrets buried here than they originally let on.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published August 3, 2021

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About the author

Courtney Gould

4 books457 followers
Courtney Gould writes books about queer girls, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night. She graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Publishing. Born and raised in Salem, OR, she now lives and writes in Tacoma, WA where she continues to write love letters to the haunted girls and rural, empty spaces.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,897 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,198 reviews40.7k followers
April 13, 2022
Oh myyyyyyyyy.... I couldn’t even finish my sentence! This is sooooooooooo darrrrkkk!

This is disturbing! This is uniquely mind blowing! That’s the earth shattering, WTH I just read, head spinning, inner demons summoning novel I was looking for so long!

My moviemaker mind worked overtime during my reading because I truly saw the scenes in my head!

Something eerie, terrifying, extremely ominous, haunted is watching you behind at each chapter! It slowly gets under your skin, captures your mind, paralyzes you! You get speechless and numb! That’s what I felt when I was reading this book or watching it in my mind!

It was like the mash up of best Supernatural episodes meet Stephen King’s Outsider with amazing LGBTQ representation! Especially the conservative, hostile, agitated townies against ghost hunter reality show producer gay couple ( once upon a time they were two of them, they were born and raised at this land! ) and their adopted 18 years old girl who is also gay is a delicious story line to hook you up!

But that’s not the main story: darkness lure around the town, hunting young adults, sucking the last drip of hope and happiness from its people’s hearts!

Two main feelings you get when you read this stunning, original story: loneliness and pure hatred!

Logan Ortiz-Woodley, dragging from town to town because of their fathers’ longtime popular show and cheap motels become her second home.

She feels so lonely, her fathers keep secrets from her: she can feel it! And their last stop Snakebite made them feel like they bit more than they can chew. It could be literally their final stop as something so dark and dangerous hunt the young population of town!

Logan wants to clear her fathers’ name because entire townies think the disappearance of Tristan connected with their return to town!

Logan teams up with Ashley Barton who is girlfriend of Tristan, seeing his ghost, feeling his existence which make her friends worry about her. Logan gets used to witness irrational things and she wants to know what happened to Tristan because searching the secrets of town may help her to learn more about herself.

Ashley and Logan forms an unconventional friendship which gets negative attention of townies. And another young boy gets disappears! Things get more heated! Are two young girls ready to fight against the invisible monster? Maybe the real monster is already at their inner circle and they’re so clueless about the danger lurking around!

Prepare to scream and hide under your bed as like I did during my read. Even after finishing the book, it took two hours to leave my hiding place!

It’s brilliant, twisty, surprising reading which earned my full, eerie, creepy, bleak five stars!

Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/ Wednesday Books for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Robin.
310 reviews1,435 followers
August 5, 2021
↠ 5 stars

Sometimes a family can be a lesbian, her girlfriend, and her two ghosthunting dads, and I think that is truly beautiful. The editor for The Dead and the Dark described it as “like Riverdale, but good,” and they are absolutely right about it. In a quiet town in Oregon on the edge of nowhere, the tragic disappearance of a young boy marks the beginning of a descent into upheaval. Enter into the chaos TV’s resident ghost hunting duo, Brandon and Alejo, returning to their hometown of Snakebite after many years in hopes of solving the disappearance. Joining them in this endeavor is their daughter Logan, who has never felt more out of sorts than she has upon her arrival in the strange town. With more teenagers winding up missing, and still no answers in sight, Logan begins to take matters into her own hands as she enlists the aid of an unlikely stranger. Someone who just might help her discover what lurks behind the shadows.

Upon starting The Dead and the Dark, I began to feel myself slowly unwind as I was led deeper into its tangled web of secrets. Secrets that built up inside my mind until they threatened to crash down the very foundations that had been so delicately composed. All this is an elaborate way of saying that this book not only architectured an intricately layered horror story, but managed to make me cry in the process. A feat that has never been easily attained in my book. Courtney Gould’s inquiry into grief and loneliness is certainly one that evokes emotion and left me with not much else to do but grapple with all that had been expressed. The novel's subtle exposition of a darkness taking root in a small community, and the ramifications associated with giving such a darkness voice, was such a powerful component throughout. I've found that horror grounded in truth will always triumph over everything else and never fail to leave an impression on me. Which is perhaps the strongest part of this debut, and had me thinking for days afterward about the meaning behind it all. Going into this, all I really had in the back of my mind were two things: sapphics + ghosts, and dammit if either of them weren't flawlessly represented in all parts of the novel. The ghost hunting girlfriend representation the world was waiting for and we all deserve. From the cover alone, I should have known this book would give me everything I needed. A look into an eerie town and the secrets it contains, and a visualization of the resentment that often follows people from place to place. I loved the deep dive into family dynamics and the commentary on how unresolved trauma can adversely impact the relationship between parent and child. Throughout the sinister undertones, that remained apparent and was touched on well. The twisting nature and Stranger Things vibe of this will certainly draw people in, but much like the darkness at work within the town, they will stay entirely for one messy ghosthunting family.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review

Trigger warnings: blood, violence, murder, attempted murder, drowning, funeral, death of a main character, homophobia, homophobic language, hate crimes
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,537 reviews9,792 followers
May 26, 2023
Logan Ortiz-Woodley has been bouncing around the country most of her life. Her Dads are the stars of television's most popular ghost-hunting show, ParaSpectors, and owing to this, the family travels quite extensively for filming.

When they tell her they need to return to the hometown they fled years ago, Snakebite, Oregon, she doesn't think too much of it. It's just another stop on the road for another episode.

What Logan wasn't prepared for was the chilly reception her family would receive once in Snakebite. The town seems to blame her Dad, Brandon, for unusual occurrences following his most recent visit.

Because of this, Logan and a group of local teens get off to a rough start. There's been a lot of tension in the town since a popular boy, Tristan, went missing. In fact, on the day Logan arrives there is a vigil praying for Tristan's safe return.

His girlfriend, Ashley Barton, hasn't given up hope that Tristan will be found, although others aren't so sure.

Disturbingly, Ashley begins to be plagued by visions of what appears to be Tristan's ghost. Unsure what to do, she seeks help from the only person she can think of who may actually have knowledge of paranormal activity, Logan.

The girls begin a cautious friendship and start to investigate what is going on in Snakebite. As more teens disappear the stakes are raised, as is the creep factor.

In addition to all of this, Logan also learns a lot more about her Dads, their relationship and what caused them to leave Snakebite in the first place. She's been desperate to learn more about them, as her relationship with her Dad, Brandon, has been particularly strained.

The Dead and the Dark is a darkly compelling YA Paranormal Thriller. I really enjoyed diving into this story.

There's a lot of exploration of topics outside of the paranormal, such as family, sacrifice, grief, forgiveness, the idea of home being tied to people versus place and what it's like to be different in a small town.

I listened to the audiobook and was completely transported to Snakebite. It's that small town many of us grew up in. I felt like I had been there before and could recognize all the Town players.

For a debut, I was impressed with the flow of the story and the layers Gould was able to bring to the page. While the paranormal aspects, as well as the atmosphere, were a ton of fun, I think I enjoyed the family dynamic and character growth most of all.

If you enjoy Mystery Thrillers with a Paranormal twist, you absolutely need to add this title to your TBR!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies of this to read and review. I had a great time with it and cannot wait to see what Courtney Gould writes next!!!

Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
929 reviews2,996 followers
August 11, 2021
4.25 stars ✨

deliciously creepy tale of a queer dysfunctional family and a town which awaits their arrival.

"She could still feel him here, like there was a line connecting them.  Wherever he was, he just needed someone to find him.  He just needed someone to bring him home.”

The dead and dark is a deliciously creepy, spine tingling story full of twists and turns with family and love in between. A perfect mixture of mystery, horror, ghost and romance.

I thought I had it all figured out but then slowly the twists and turns starts to unfold and I was amazed at how this isn't your average ghost town murder mystery, it's more than that! It's all about the family Alejo Brandon and Logan built together.

Gould has a flair of expressing her ideas and making something simple look mysterious and creepy. The description of town Snakebite was creepily mellifluous. Her writing style is intriguing.

All characters were flawed and realistic, all trying their best yet end up hurting each other. A queer dysfunctional family which isn't what it look like. A mother and daughter on other hand trying their best to understand each other.

Overall I would highly recommend checking this one out. It's new and fresh.
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.3k followers
December 15, 2022
There are a lot of bad things in life. Stepping in a wet spot while wearing socks. Pouring a bowl of cereal or a cup of coffee and THEN realizing you're out of milk. When cookies go stale and they get all weird and tough.

There are even more just-okay things. Pretzels (of the non-soft variety). The new Star Wars movies (don't yell at me). BuzzFeed quizzes (I don't have a parenthetical for this one).

But, blessedly, there are a few excellent, wonderful things too. Two of them are ghosts and books with pretty covers.


I've been saying for ages (or like 6 months since I finally forced myself to the point of devastating epiphany and later acceptance) that I think I've finally outgrown YA.

Here's the complicating factor, baby.

This was so fun! Ghosts are the best! I love a mean teenager!

Mean girls in general are my favorite demographic. One time my friend introduced me to their roommates and was like, they're all great, except Maya. Maya is really mean. And I met all of them and was like :) okay cool and then Maya came home unexpectedly and was, true to hype, a b*tch, and I was like I LOVE YOU. CAN WE GET MARRIED? DO YOU LIKE ME? DO YOU WANT TO HOLD HANDS?

Maya might be her real name. I don't know. Oops.

Moving on.

There is kind of no explanation for the whole big reveal aspect but ok, whatever.

Generally the whole conclusion really was pretty anticlimactic. It felt like someone told the author that she'd only paid for 368 pages at, like, page 331 and she was like oh sh*t! Let's wrap things up. Here's who the bad guy is, now we defeated the spooky thing, let's all go home.

Like, if I were a nonhuman entity bent on like eating the spirits of kids known only as The Dark, personally I would be harder to destroy. But that's just me.

That's all I got.

Bottom line: Rules are made to be broken!!!



review to come / 3.5 stars

currently-reading updates

engaging in one of my favorite hobbies (judging books by their covers)

tbr review

i don't remember having added this to my tbr so i'm going to assume this beautiful magical cover cast a spell on me and move on
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
June 23, 2021
This is a solid debut, but I can't help but wonder if I thought this was going to be different based on the synopsis or my excitable expectations. The opening interlude is deliciously dark and entirely creepy, which sets an ominous tone for the town of Snakebite, Oregon. While definitely a slow burning story, both in the mystery behind the disappearances and also the budding romance between two of our main characters, I think the pacing works well for the type of story that this is. I had the privilege of listening to an advance audio copy, and narrator Soneela Nankani's voice is like smooth butter, simply enhancing the narrative as she speaks. She's truly a vocal artist, and I will actively seek more books that she has contributed to.

The paranormal aspect of the plot is mostly vague and mysterious for a majority of the book, probably to allow for character development amongst the side issues at hand, and I think this worked well. I was constantly trying to figure out what was going on, and wondered how Snakebite played a part in Logan and her dads' past and was also contributing to their current troubles. I adore that we get to see a healthy and established relationship between Alejo and Brandon, and how we even get a sneak peek at how they met and came together in the past. Logan is a wonderfully complex, and I found myself much more drawn to her story and portions of the book. Their little family unit completely won my heart, and I could have read an entire trilogy featuring Brandon and Alejo as a couple and as parents.

My main concerns came from the romance between Logan and Ashley. I felt like this part of the story was more "tell" than "show" which left me struggling to feel their connection. Also, I don't want to include any spoilers, but there is a scene around 70% between Ashley and Logan and the dialogue after a moment between them, followed by a major betrayal on Ashley's part, left me feeling uncomfortable. After that happened, I just couldn't trust Ashley's motives, and this did dampen the rest of the story for me. Overall, a creative plot and I see a flourishing future for the author!

Author's Note:
"Some of the thematic material in The Dead and the Dark involves child death and endangerment, violence including strangulation and drowning, homophobia, and homophobic slurs. For a more detailed description of sensitive content please visit gouldbooks.com/books/tdatd.

*Many thanks to the publisher for my ARC and my ALC.
September 24, 2021
After reading the cover description, I thought this would be interesting as an audiobook – and what a great call I made. Courtney Gould's debut novel, The Dead and the Dark is a wonderful atmospheric supernatural mystery that exposes people's nature and truths of the past.

The Dark is more than the shadows, the Dark is a presence that has existed through the ages in Snakebite, Oregon. “The Dark has been waiting—and it won't stay hidden any longer.” The stealth of the dark seeks a new home, and where it finds a place to inhabit, no one will know, but the consequences will be devastating.

Logan arrives in Snakebite with her two fathers: Alejo Ortiz and Brandon Woodley, famous TV ghost hunters. While Logan feels this is another stop on their ghost hunting adventures, it means much more to Alejo and Brandon as they grew up, met each other, and fell in love in Snakebite. It may be an isolated town, where residents are generally suspicious of newcomers. Still, there is a more profound sense of unease and an ominous evil now that the Ortiz-Woodley family are in Snakebite.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend, Tristan, goes missing and many feel the unwelcome visitors have some part to play in this. Logan is threatened and warned out of town by a group of teenagers. Ashley receives ghostly visions of Tristan, where he’s lost and wants help to get home, but a sinister force has an evil intent that the suffering is just beginning. Ashley and Logan form an unlikely partnership as they search for Tristan and understand what is happening, especially when more teenagers go missing.

The Dead and the Dark has many hidden secrets, but fundamental is discovering if Alejo and Brandon are the precursors of evil or the town's saviours. Logan also suspects that her fathers are keeping something from her. With the most unlikely ally in Ashley, they form a very close bond as they search for answers and the dead.

I enjoyed the plot and many twists, but the ending seemed unconvincing and didn’t quite match the level of menace that permeated most of the story. Logan is a fantastic character that generates excellent empathy as she has grown up alone, with two fathers heavily involved with paranormal encounters, and specifically a very distant relationship with Brandon. She is constantly moving and living with exclusion from normal childhood friendships; she still reaches out a hand of friendship where she can.

I listened to the audiobook version, and the scenes where the atmosphere went dark, the narrator, Soneela Nankani, was excellent in conveying the menace. I would recommend this book, and while it fits in the horror genre, it feels more appropriately defined as young adult horror. I want to thank Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Steph.
542 reviews269 followers
October 18, 2021
oh, i loved this book's spooky vibes! bold lesbian with ghosthunting dads, twin-peaksy small town, ghostly disappearances, soft sapphic romance?? fuck yes!! and honestly, "lonely lesbian with dad issues" would have been more than enough to sell me on this book, but there's so much other good stuff!

i was reminded of burn our bodies down, which is also about a tough lesbian who is plunked down in an odd small town where she has to unravel a mystery related to her family's past.

they're both good creepy reads, but the dead and the dark feels more fleshed out, perhaps because it's told in dual perspectives. we experience the town of snakebite from the perspective of lonely logan, who is staying in a motel while her dads do a secretive investigation. and we also see it from the perspective of heartbroken ashley, whose boyfriend tristan was the first kid to go missing in snakebite months ago.

since there is some romantic chemistry between logan and ashley, i was uncertain about how ashley would navigate both the potential new romance and her loss of tristan.

one of my favorite things about the book is logan's relationships with her dads, reliable alejo and distant brandon. (SPOILERS)

He understands the dark the way a stone understands a dam released over it.

also, the ghost hunting stuff is a blast. it's semi-dubious without turning silly or campy. the characters even use a machine that allows them to interpret text messages from ghosts, but the gadgets don't cheapen the story; it's still dark, sinister, and atmospheric.

and the ending!! it's beautiful in its tentative hope for a new beginning. this book's balance of darkness and light is just right.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,287 reviews35k followers
July 13, 2021
3.5 stars

The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won't stay hidden any longer.

Whoever said to not be afraid of the dark, did not know what he/she was talking about!

Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. You can feel it, can't you? It is as if there is a static buzz hidden somewhere underground. You cannot see it, you cannot almost hear it, but you can feel it deep in your soul. Plus, the weather is changing, and teens are disappearing, and some are dead. People are on edge, and they become even more suspicious and unhinged when TV’s most popular ghost hunters, Brandon and Alejo, have returned to town with their daughter, Logan.

Logan Ortiz-Woodley has never been to Snakebite before even though it is where her fathers grew up, where they met and where they fell in love. Her first impression is one of unease. The town makes it clear that they are not welcome.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend, Tristan, is the first teenager to go missing. Ashley has been searching for him, she can feel his presence and his ghost following her. When she meets Logan, they decide to ban together, determined to uncover the towns secrets, find what is haunting the town, and in the process learn more about themselves. As the tension mounts and the darkness spreads, they soon realize not only do they have feelings for each other but that there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

This was a delight to read. I loved, loved, loved the sections where The Dark is featured. I thought those were brilliant and were some of my favorite parts of the book. Those sections are sinister, creepy and dare I say delightful. Plus, I almost tripped wading through all the secrets in this book!

The characters are both interesting and frustrating at the same time. I wanted to knock some heads together while thinking "Why doesn't anyone just say why you are doing things? How about tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?" Jeepers. Now that I am done shaking my head, back to Logan being interesting. Logan grew up lonely, always on the move. With fathers who travel to various location to film their television show, she did not have a semblance of a normal happy family life. She pulled on my heartstrings right there. She is not only lonely, but also spunky, brave and a connoisseur of weird food combinations. Logan also believes that her fathers are keeping things from her. Of course, there are things that parents do not tell their children, but this goes deeper than that.

It took me a couple of chapters to get into this book but once it grabbed my attention, it held it. It has just the right amount of spookiness and underlying unease. As the story progresses, things get darker and more tense. If paranormal and tension filled books are your thing, this may be the book for you! This book also has a strong LGBTQ representation as well.

There are a lot of themes in the book: loneliness, family, home, friendship, love, acceptance, secrets, and belonging to name a few. The themes of home and loneliness stood out for me. What makes a home? Is it a location, a building, a town, or the people in your life? You can be alone and be lonely, but you can also be surrounded by people and still feel incredible lonely as well.

Plus, if you have not looked - check out the book's cover!

Dark, tense and entertaining.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com
Profile Image for Lex Kent.
1,682 reviews8,705 followers
August 4, 2021
This was good, dark, and creepy. I’m a big fan of paranormal mystery/crime books and I’ve been lucky that there have been some good ones released lately. While the stories are quite different, this had a similar vibe to The River Has Teeth. The River Has Teeth was a little better fit for my personal tastes, but if you enjoyed that story I believe you will enjoy this one too.

I talk about readability a lot because I like books that are easy to get into and that can get their hooks right into you. This book was like that and I ended up reading it in one sitting. The pace was maybe a tad slower than I would have liked, but the book had a really nice build and when the pace picked-up, the story got much meatier and I didn’t want to put the book down. The author writes well and you can easy see vivid pictures of what is happening on the page, in your mind.

I’m more of a character driven reader but for this book I found I was more into the plot. I had mixed feeling about some of the characters. I thought Logan and her fathers were really well done, but I had a harder time connecting with Ashley and her family/friends. It wasn't that Ashley was unlikable, but the people around her were, so it kind of rubbed off on her. I did like when she got more into the paranormal aspects as it made her character more interesting for me, but it was still a mix.

It’s funny because I did find some things over the top and had to suspend disbelief a bit, but it was not the paranormal parts. It was the people and how they behaved and what they got away with, which was a bit much. The whole thing with the Paris kid, I mean come on that scene was a little too much for me. And I could not help but wonder how the whole town would not get put on the FBI’s watch list after that ending.

While there were some out there parts, I did like the main plot quite a bit. The mystery had some nice twists and while I had some ideas about one part, I was also surprised so I always like that. A lot of my friends have commented that this was a very scary story but I didn’t get that. There is violence and death and I would call this dark and creepy, but it was not scary for me. I guess your mileage may vary.

There was a light sapphic romance. It is slow burn and almost enemies to lovers. Maybe Romeo and Juliet-ish is the better way to explain it. It started off rocky to me and I wasn’t feeling it. Luckily, as the book went on I started to believe in the connection and like them as a couple. I do wish Gould would have spent more time developing Ashley’s feelings. We needed to see the change and how it happened but we really don’t. In the end it was a cute but light romance.

I would recommend this to YA paranormal crime/mystery fans. This is well written and an interesting read. To have a debut this strong makes me excited to read Gould again. If you are looking for dark and creepy, this book may just be for you.

A copy was given to me for a review.
Profile Image for Harrow.
313 reviews39 followers
March 31, 2021
The Dead and the Dark is spine-chilling scary with some really intriguing twists and turns, I definitely do not recommend reading it at night. I am not into paranormal mystery books and I only picked up this book because of the sapphic aspect and I am so glad I did because it ended up being of the best books I’ve read in quite some time. It was totally addicting and so gripping, I slept at 3 in the morning.

As the main reason I was interested in this book was the sapphic romance so it was disappointing in the beginning that I didn't feel sparks between the couple and thought it was gonna be mediocre. But then like everything else in Dead and the Dark, it surprised me greatly and became one of the best things about the book. It turned into a chemistry filled slowburn that I couldn't get enough of.

If the sapphic and the top notch horror-mystery element isn't enough then read it for the father-daughter relationship. It was my most favourite thing in the book (and reminded me of Walter-Peter from Fringe) It didn't seem like much in the beginning but by the end it had me sobbing.

I did have a few little issue like

Overall, I pretty much loved everything in this book the eerie atmosphere, the relationships and the horror-mystery and now I am even more excited to read Echo Sunset by Courtney Gould.

Copy provided by the publisher, Bold Strokes Books, via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Luvtoread.
496 reviews277 followers
September 18, 2021
Snakebite Oregon, even the sound of the name sounds lonely and desolate. That's what seventeen year old Logan Ortiz-Woodley thinks and feels as she packs up with her dad to go ghost hunting on the road again.. She just wishes she had a real place to call home. Her dads are the famous ghost hunter team Alejo Ortiz and Brandon Woodley from a very popular tv show and now they are going back to the hometown where they both were originally from to investigate the darkness and mystery that has always surrounded Snakebite. Things have gotten worse in their hometown because a teenage boy has suddenly disappeared and the people from Snakebite think Brandon has something to do with the missing boy as the darkness continues to seep more quickly into the heart of the little town. This family is not welcome in Snakebite and most of the people will do everything they can to push them away as the darkness grows stronger and and more teenagers are targeted by an evil that only Brandon and Alejo see and understand but this team may not have the ability to stop this evil unless one of them dies.

This was a creepy, fun and intriguing story about ghost hunting yet so much more. Logan is a beautiful young girl trying to find herself and wanting to have a stable and loving relationship with her dads but she yearns for more. There is a lot of mystery surrounding Brandon and also his aloofness with his daughter. The darkness in the town is very spooky and unsettling at times. The author did a great job of keeping the mystery going until the very end which continually had me puzzled and wondering how the story would play out. At times the story felt a little disjointed with timelines and some of the plot but otherwise it didn't change the enjoyment or the entertainment value of the book. This was a very strong debut for Courtney Gould and I will definitely look forward to read more of her books.

I want to thank the publisher "St. Martin's Press" and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this entertaining story and any thoughts and opinions expressed are unbiased and mine alone!

I have given this book a rating of 3 1/2 SPOOKY 🌟🌟🌟🌠 Stars!

Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Author: Courtney Gould
Profile Image for ;3.
395 reviews813 followers
February 14, 2021
alternative title: gay dads and their gay daughter and her girlfriend have a very bad time with the supernatural in a small MAGA town
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,315 followers
August 5, 2021
Admittedly, it does not take much to hype me up about a book. A ringing endorsement from a beloved author or the shared excitement of a friend is usually enough to have me bouncing around in anticipation. So yes, my elation as I went into The Dead and the Dark probably didn’t match the overall tone of the novel, but it didn’t take long to adjust to the truly creepy, unsettling town that was Snakebite, Oregon.

Somewhere between a ghost story and a murder mystery, Courtney Gould’s debut novel follows two young women—Logan, who just moved into town with her dads, and Ashley, who’s family is a staple of Snakebite and owns most of the local property. Though starting out on adversarial terms, the two eventually forge a sort of alliance once their peers begin disappearing, which blossoms into a something-more-than-friendship later on. Ashley is still mourning the loss of her boyfriend, Tristan, who disappeared only a week after one of Logan’s fathers, Brandon, showed up in Snakebite. Fighting town prejudices as well as an unnamed force that casts a sinister shadow over the entire community, Ashley and Logan are racing against the clock to find the culprit and finally grant their friends and family peace.

What I liked most about this story was probably also one of the things holding it back. There’s a supernatural element to this book, with vaguely defined ‘Dark’ powers that are genuinely scary to follow along with. Unfortunately I think that with all that build-up, the ending felt a little flimsy, like the author didn’t know how to get down from the height she climbed up to. It wrapped up in a way even less defined, which I think left the ending more open-ended than she intended.

It seems like a lot of the problems that Logan and her family faced could have been resolved earlier on if her fathers literally told her, well, anything. This isn’t my favorite way that authors withhold information, by having the characters be allergic to communication, but though annoying it wasn’t a dealbreaker for me. Some of the twists completely caught me off guard, while others were more predictable, but throughout my time reading I have to say I was totally rapt.

At the end of the day, this is a solid scary, paranormal mystery that would make a great binge. Some of the character interactions were a little convenient to the story, but this was always going to be a book where one has to suspend disbelief for the extent of it. Ashley and Logan are interesting characters, though their romance was a little half-baked for me, but I did like them individually. Will The Dead and the Dark hold up under sharp analysis? Probably not, but as far as entertainment goes, I can recommend this one.

*Thank you Chelsea for sharing your ARC with me! 💙

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for Miranda.
165 reviews50 followers
August 3, 2021
Happy release day!

I received an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book being pitched as a f/f paranormal thriller with enemies to lovers, monsters, ghosts, and a killer on the loose was enough to make me add it to my list of highly anticipated reads and request an arc. The author’s note points out that Gould’s editor said it is “like Riverdale, but good” while others have compared it to having Supernatural vibes.

Courtney Gould’s The Dead and the Dark opens with something called the Dark that has been lurking in a small town in Oregon called Snakebite. When a local boy named Tristian goes missing, tv’s beloved ghost hunting duo from ParaSpectors, Brandon and Alejo Ortiz-Woodley, return to town and bring their daughter Logan along for the ride. The townspeople think the Ortiz-Woodleys are somehow connected to what has been happening, and even Logan thinks there is more to the story than what her fathers are letting on. She eventually meets Ashley Barton, Tristian’s girlfriend, who reveals that she has been seeing his ghost. Since the two are not getting answers from their parents, they decide to team up to investigate Snakebite’s dark secrets and find out the truth once and for all.

I was immediately pulled into this story because of how it opens. The start of the book and the interludes throughout definitely have that spooky factor. In the beginning before the story has really even started to develop, readers are introduced to the Dark, a mysterious monster-like entity. I found this to be an intriguing opening because it set up the mystery and made me feel like I had to keep reading in order to make sense of the Dark. It was very weird but very cool.

I love how there felt like there was a balance to Gould’s writing. I thought she did a great job at setting up the whole insider versus outsider views in Snakebite. I appreciated how the chapters switched between these characters to explore what they were thinking and feeling. It set up different struggles as well. There were these tense, scary, dark, and heavy moments all throughout the story, but Gould pairs them well with lighthearted and funny moments. This is what I mean where I say there is a balance. There were a few jokes that I audibly laughed at, and I really loved seeing snippets of the ParaSpectors show. I thought Gould did a great job with writing character and relationship development too. Seeing Logan and Ashley navigate their feelings was really interesting. I also liked how Alejo and Brandon were given space for their relationship to be explained and explored. Something that I have not encountered a lot in books is a good portrayal of father-daughter relationships. It was fun and heartwarming to see how close Alejo and Logan were. On the other side of that, I am glad that the story expanded on the tense or awkward relationship between Brandon and Logan.

When it comes to thrillers or horror novels, I am the type of person who never stops trying to guess who the killer is, where a monster came from, or what will happen in the end. I really appreciate that this book was not predictable. I had a lot of guesses and nearly all were wrong. At times, the pacing felt a bit slower than I was expecting, but overall it was pretty solid. I have seen some people say the ending is kind of cliché, but I do think it is a very fitting ending and it made me happy.

This book tackles some heavy topics like grief, loneliness, family, and belonging. Sometimes these things can weigh on a person, so it was nice to see how Ashley and Logan could relate to one another. These conversations felt honest and relatable. This story also shows what can happen when a small town is full of hate and bigotry. I appreciated how Gould criticized the kind of views that tend to dominate small rural towns because it is something I can completely relate to and understand. I grew up around people who acted very similar to some of the characters in Snakebite. It is exhausting and frustrating to say the least, so I am also glad to see social commentary that challenges these kinds of beliefs.

I have seen nothing but good things about The Dead and the Dark so far, and I am so glad it lived up to its hype and the expectations I had for it! I have been feeling like I needed a break from reading every day, but this book was one I have definitely been in the mood for. Courtney Gould’s debut was very impressive, and I am very excited to see what she does next!

*Content warning: underage drinking, child death and endangerment, murder, violence including strangulation and drowning, homophobia and homophobic slurs, claustrophobia (buried alive), hate crimes, death, blood*

Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book before its release on August 3, 2021.
Profile Image for tappkalina.
650 reviews399 followers
April 9, 2023
I should honestly trust myself more and read the books I actually want to read and know I will enjoy, instead of just picking up random books for the sake of reading/listening to something even if I'm not in the mood.
I mean I don't really have any other hobby, so it's either reading or mindlessly watching YouTube videos, but I'm tired of mediocre books I don't even remember a few days after I finished them.

So. The Dead and the Dark.

Would recommend it to those who liked Sawkill Girls.

I don't even know where to start, because I loved pretty much everything about it.
The characters. The relationship dynamics. The family aspect. The grief. The emotions. The plot. The spooky atmosphere. The romance! Oh, lord. Finally a good sapphic romance.

If I had to choose specifically what my favorite things were, I would probably say the two mcs individually and together, Logan's relationship arc with Brandon, and that Ashley could find herself.


What I didn't understand though, is why Ashely made Alejo the suspect. It was so random. They both new something was off with Brandon, so I didn't see the reason behind that choice at all.

I though either Logan or Brandon will die at the end, and although didn't actually want it, strangely enough, I was so ready for a heartbreak. Still happy with how it ended. Made it a reread material. I don't know if I could reread something that has a depressing ending.
Profile Image for theresa.
293 reviews4,311 followers
July 23, 2021
The Dead and the Dark is a slow, creeping mystery that will have you hooked. Led by two lesbian main charcters, this book perfectly combines romance, intrigue and horror to create a story that will haunt you long after the final page.

As this is a thriller I won’t get into too much detail with the plot and mystery beyond saying I really enjoyed it. The background on how the darkness eating away at this small town, Snakebite, came to be and developed throughout the novel was really interesting and felt plausible. This book is definitely a slow build but by the end I just couldn’t put it down. The sheer emotion towards the end and exploration of grief and pain throughout was heart wrenching and beautifully written.

I loved how the author used different perspectives in this book, particularly the haunting, creeping prose of the antagonist. This built so much tension and was written in such a distinct style from the rest of the novel that I adored. I really enjoyed reading from both of our main characters, Logan and Ashley, and watching their relationship develop. The setting was gorgeously described to create a blistering, tense atmosphere which worked to make the isolated town all the more spooky.

As much as I did overall enjoy this novel, I did find it perhaps a bit too slow to begin with and could feel myself getting bored. I also didn’t connect with either of the main characters as much as I would like to, which meant that the tricky situations and danger they found themselves in during their investigations didn’t scare me as much as they could have. I just didn’t feel like I got to know them well enough and that they didn’t have any significant development. Of course, I prefer character focused novels and this is more plot based so the issue is more with my taste than the book itself.

I overall enjoyed reading The Dead and the Dark but just wished for more of a connection to the characters to completely love it. However, the slow, creeping nature of this book combined with gorgeous, atmospheric writing drew me in and wouldn’t let me go until I’d uncovered all its mysteries. If lesbian ghost hunters in a spooky small town and explorations of grief sounds good to you, then I recommend you pick this book up. Alternatively, if Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural but make it lesbian and with actual paranormal activity sounds good to you, you'll love this!

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter

*eARC received in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley*
Profile Image for booksandzoe.
263 reviews1,678 followers
April 8, 2022
My one line pitch of this book: it's like Riverdale, but if Riverdale was actually... good.

The Dead and the Dark is an AMAZING queer thriller following a family of outsiders in a small town who fall under suspicion when a series of teenage murders occurs. The small-minded, unaccepting town of Snakebite, Oregon chased Logan and her two dads away 15 years prior, and the inopportune timing of their re-arrival coinciding with a series of murders certainly isn't doing them any favors with the townsfolk. When Logan meets Ashley, the best friend and ex-girlfriend of the first murder victim, they embark on a journey of mystery solving; Ashley because she wants to find Tristian alive, and Logan because she wants to clear her fathers name. But everything is not as it seems in this small town, and pair timing with complicated family dynamics, Logan starts to suspect her own dads.

The mystery in this novel is so good and so unique. From the plot synopsis, this may seem like a tired, stereotypical mystery trope, but this plot is anything but. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. The writing is poignant, the author does an amazing job of writing complex emotions and relationships while maintaining the creepily mysterious atmosphere.

I cannot recommend this book enough. You will love the characters, you will be surprised by how deeply complicated and emotional the story gets, and the mystery will keep you engaged and guessing. This is one of the best mysteries of the year, and you won't want to miss it.

I listened to this story via audiobook, and the narrator was awesome! The audiobook was super engaging and made the story *that* much creepier.
Profile Image for Kristy.
1,026 reviews142 followers
August 9, 2021
Captivating look at the supernatural and the pull of family

In Snakebite, Oregon, teenagers keep disappearing or turning up dead. Things just seem off. The locals blame Brandon and Alejo Ortiz-Woodley, two former Snakebite residents who are back in town. They now host a popular ghost hunting show and travel the country with their daughter Logan. Wanting to clear the family name, Logan winds up joining forces with Ashley Barton, whose boyfriend was the first to go missing. Ashley is sure she can feel his presence guiding her around Snakebite. But as the two team up, they discover some pretty terrifying and dangerous things about Snakebite.

I loved this book so much. Sometimes it feels like I read similar books over and over. Not this time. Gould’s book is original and spellbinding. This is such a dark and ominous read. Gould truly brings you into Snakebite, the supernatural, creepy, and quite unwelcoming small town. It’s atmospheric and spooky. I could not put this book down!

DARK is filled with LGBTQIA representation, between Logan’s dads, the fact that she’s an out lesbian, and her own burgeoning friendship (and more) with Ashley. I loved everything about all of it.

This book is part horror story, part exploration of the meaning and depths of darkness, and part look at family dynamics. It’s an extremely well written ghost story with a sapphic love interest. It really doesn’t get much better than that! (It’s so good, read it—and it’s a debut!)

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press / Wednesday Books and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

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May 27, 2022
blogthestorygraphletterboxd tumblrko-fi

3 ½ stars

“Ghosts are death, but maybe death can mean different things.”

Spooky, sapphic, summery, The Dead and the Dark delivers on all of these. Fans of YA paranormal YA novels like Beware the Wild or Stiefvater's TRC or even graphic-novels such as The Low, Low Woods, should definitely consider giving Courtney Gould’s debut a shot. The Dead and the Dark = eerie atmosphere + oppressive summer heat + f/f romance + dysfunctional families + not-so-idyllic-small-town with secrets.

“In Snakebite, you were either fleeting or permanent. People who came to town always left, and people who left didn’t come back.”

The Dead and the Dark follows Logan Ortiz-Woodley, the long-suffering daughter of the duo behind ParaSpectors, a ghost-hunting type of ‘documentary’ TV show. Due to her dads’ work, Logan has grown up all over the US, never staying in one place for long. Her dads, Alejo and Brandon, often seem to prioritise their filming schedule over her. While she has a good relationship with Alejo, Brandon has always been a distant figure, to the point of being cold towards her. After her final year of high school, Logan finds herself tagging along with Alejo to join Brandon who has been staying in Snakebite, Oregon for the past few months. Snakebite happens to be her dads’ hometown but Logan knows next to nothing about that time in their lives. Her dads claim that they are there to work on their latest season but Logan suspects some ulterior motives behind their decision to return to this clearly hostile small-town.
Once in Snakebite Logan learns that the town’s golden boy went missing soon after Brandon moved back, and many of its inhabitants seem to believe that he was responsible. Logan teams up with Ashley Barton, the girlfriend of the golden boy and a golden girl in her own right as she’s the daughter of the most powerful family in Snakebite. Despite their differences, Logan and Ashley decide to investigate her boyfriend’s disappearance, and soon enough realize that Snakebite may be haunted in more ways than one.

“If pain is the measure, I promise Snakebite is full of ghosts.”

Their thrilling investigation (which sees them uncovering years-old secrets, come to terms with hard truths, suspect their loved ones, see this town and its people through new eyes, and come across ghosts and a ‘dark’ evil entity) was certainly engrossing. I liked their dynamic and how by spending time together they slowly start catching feelings for each other. The setting of Snakebite was really well done. The town’s hostility towards the Ortiz-Woodley family adds extra urgency to the girls’ investigation.

“At the end of all of this, Snakebite would never be the same.”

Now on what didn’t quite work for me: all that supposed evidence incriminating Brandon. That a lot of his scenes or flashbacks involving him in the first half of the novel corroborate this view of him as being a potentially bad guy. It got a bit silly as I already knew who the culprit was. And yes, that ‘twist’...I saw it coming a mile away. Maybe I’ve just read too many mystery novels or maybe I should have not spent a few years of my life watching all 70 episodes of Agatha Christie's Poirot but it just so happens that most of the time I guess who is behind a certain crime and or even their motivations. This doesn’t always ruin the story for me but here it sort of made the whole reveal and explanation anticlimactic. Towards the end I also found myself feeling more engaged in Alejo and Brandon than Logan and Ashley which is weird as I’m closer in age to the girls & I’m a lesbian woman. But there was something about Ashley that I just found a wee bit boring and not very engaging. She was very sheltered and compared to Logan I found her character somewhat flat.
The ‘missing boy’ plays a similar function as the dead girls that populate so many crime shows and fiction. We never really learn anything much about him other than he was an actual golden boy and he’s merely a plot device.
Ashley’s mother seemed a poor rip-off of the mother from Sharp Object (a novel that, surprise surprise, the author mentions in the acknowledgements). We never learn much about Ashley’s family which seemed like a wasted opportunity.

The secrecy also got to me. The girls repeatedly ask the ‘adults’ what went on in Snakebite all those years ago or why there is such animosity between Ashely’s mother and Logan’s dads...but they all say dismissive things like ‘soon we’ll tell you/not now/when all of this is over’. It’s one of my least favourite tropes and I wish that it hadn't been so overused in this story. The time skips (sometimes one or two weeks go by after a certain scene) did not always seem necessary as they clearly served a buffering function.

Still, this was an absorbing and quick read. The relationship between Logan and her dads, specifically Brandon, was one of the most compelling aspects of the storyline. All in all, I’m glad I read this and I look forward to whatever Gould writes next.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
928 reviews799 followers
March 31, 2022
Generational secrets, the darkness within, and small town murders collide in this atmospheric and unputdownable debut.

Concept: ★★★
Pacing: ★★★★
Sense of unease: ★★★★★
Enjoyment: ★★★★

Watch out for the dark.

Wow, this was such an engaging young adult mystery. As an adult reader who can't seem to stay away from the young adult genre, sometimes there are stories that don't translate out of their age-appropriate market and I feel like I'm the one old person at the young people's party. The Dead and the Dark was not one of those books—I think this one will have more of an all-ages appeal.

In Snakebite, a small town with generations of secrets and shame, things don't change. Visitors never stay, residents don't leave, and those that are different are not welcomed.

Years ago, Logan's two dads left Snakebite under upsetting circumstances, several of which revolving around their status as the only gay couple in town. They've been a traveling duo ever since, with their paranormal TV series dragging them across the country along with their adopted daughter, Logan.

But when one of Logan's dads returns to Snakebite and his supposedly short trip turns into months and months, they family decides to return to Snakebite and see what's going on.

Someone's keeping secrets. And a boy is already missing.

I think The Dead and the Dark works best if you don't know too much about it going into the story, so I'm not going to share any more of the plot. In short: I thought this story took a while to get off of the ground (roughly 75 pages) but then once things started to unravel for Logan and the other characters I could not stop reading this one.

It's a bit ghost-y. A bit queer identity struggle. A bit of small town bigotry. A bit of a romance on the side. A bit of a cold-blooded killer.

This one sits at some interesting cross-sections, so I can see why some readers feel unsatisfied after finishing it. If you're here for just one thing, then the other bits feel like unwanted excess. But I, personally, was here for the entire experience and, outside of some occasionally clunky writing, I thought this story was extremely well done.

Looking forward to seeing Courtney Gould's growth in her next book.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
616 reviews499 followers
September 14, 2021
Actual rating: 3,5
Full review to come.

I don't know if I should have saved this one for Halloween, becAuse trust me, from the beginning, I can tell I signed myself for a dark, creepy journey.

Well, here we are now...
Profile Image for alaska.
235 reviews437 followers
August 26, 2021
i don’t know whether to cry, stare at the pages with my mouth wide open or laugh manically because i sure as hell am going crazy.

no. i actually do know. i’m gonna cry some more.

pre-release review:

courtney gould is killing the sapphic bookcommunity single-handedly, and at this point it'd be an honour to die by her hand. the gay panic is real and i haven't rad a single wORD YET.
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,127 reviews819 followers
August 3, 2021
On my blog.

Rep: lesbian mcs, bi Latino mc, gay mc

CWs: murder, homophobia, homophobic violence, attempted drowning, child death

Galley provided by publisher

Where do I start with The Dead and the Dark? It was one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2021 so I pretty much read the ARC of this as soon as I got it. And then I loved it and I’ve been thinking about rereading it since (and the only thing stopping me is the sheer number of other ARCs I’ve been slacking off getting to).

The story follows Logan, brought to the town of Snakebite, Oregon by her ghost-hunting dads, for reasons that they won’t explain, to find that their arrival has coincided with the disappearance of the town’s golden boy and everyone thinks they’re behind it. Determined to find the boy and prove them wrong, Logan enlists the help of Ashley and together they start investigating.

I think the first thing I have to mention is that Logan calls herself a lesbian. This may not seem like a whole lot, but when you’ve read countless books that go out of their way to avoid the word, having a clearly lesbian character claim the word on page? It’s a whole lot.

And what I also loved is that this isn’t THE lesbian experience in the book. There’s Ashley too. Ashley who so vividly experiences comphet, in a way I’ve never seen in YA lit before — as an experience that’s recognised as comphet, rather than, say, me thinking I’m reading comphet and it’s not (happens more often than you realise) — that I had to put the book down for a moment. (Also as a side note: she isn’t bi. You can check the author’s tweets if you don’t believe me.)

On top of that, the story is so deliciously creepy, with twists and turns you (mostly) won’t spot. (I only say mostly because I’ve read too many mysteries now. I know how these things go.) And at its centre is a family. That’s what I loved most here. That all these things can happen, and you would think maybe the mystery is enough, but it all comes back to Logan and Brandon and Alejo and the family they built together (and obviously Ashley later on). For all that it’s a horror story with murder and ghosts, it’s also a story full of love and heart.

All of which to say, you really really want to be picking this one up come August. If you trust me on nothing else, trust me on this.
Profile Image for Brend.
320 reviews322 followers
January 29, 2023
*opens youtube*

''THIS GHOST HATES QUEERS???? No clickbait! Found footage ACAB''

''Who knows me better, my lesbian GF or her gay dads? + tacobell mukbang :)''

''I once committed a hate crime (APOLOGY VIDEO) #ad''

''In defense of Judge Judy and pickle juice; a video essay''




Profile Image for Beary Into Books.
658 reviews42 followers
August 30, 2021
Rating 5
This book had been on my shelf waiting to be read for months before I finally picked it up (not the book's fault but my own). I requested it on Netgalley after seeing the intriguing cover and reading the synopsis. I’m a mood reader and I never found myself in the mood for this one. After reading it, I am so upset with myself for waiting so long! I switched between the audiobook and the e-book and both versions were enjoyable.
The story had a nice flow to it and the pacing was on point. I never felt bored and even when listening to the audiobook my mind never wandered from the story. It definitely helps that the story follows multiple people because a lot gets missed when only following one. The author did a great job of describing the settings and surroundings. I could imagine the small judgemental town and I could easily picture the creepy cabin due to her descriptions. When listening to the audiobook I could feel the emotion that the narrator was conveying. The overall plot was definitely intriguing because I love watching paranormal shows on tv. So, reading a book about two ghost hunters and their daughter who couldn’t be interested sounded amazing. I wish I could go into more detail about the plot but this story is one that you should go into knowing as little as possible. That’s how I went into it and I loved it. I was questioning what would happen until the very last minute.
I really loved both Logan and Ashley’s characters. They were both strong, independent young women that can be seen as role models. Ashley was more quiet and soft spoken before she started hanging out with Logan. While Logan was always outspoken and would stick up for herself no matter who was picking on her. Logan had this fire in her that I loved reading about. She had a troubled past due to being adopted and having trouble connecting with one of her dad’s. She felt alone and misunderstood by the people she interacted with. Ashley grew up with her mom and lived a very sheltered life. This is why Logan seemed extreme to her because she was not used to that in her small town. Luckily, being forced to work with one another they were both able to broaden their way of thinking. The side characters were good but besides the dad’s none of them really stood out to me. Ashley’s childhood friends were your typical bully kids who did not want to accept the unknown. I would consider the dark a main character and what a great main character! I can’t say too much due to spoilers but I will say the dark had more depth than I thought it would.

Should you read “The Dead and the Dark”?
Yes! This is a great thriller, suspense, mystery read. I will warn you it is pretty dark but that just made me enjoy it even more. I love how diverse this book is and how real the characters come across.
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