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Together We Rot

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A teen girl looking for the truth about her missing mother forms a reluctant alliance with her former best friend...in exchange for hiding him from his cult-leading family.

Wil Greene’s mom has been missing for over a year, and the police are ready to call the case closed—they claim she skipped town and you can’t find a woman who wants to disappear. But she knows her mom wouldn’t just leave…and she knows the family of her former best friend, Elwood Clarke, has something to do with it.

Elwood has been counting down the days until his 18th birthday—in dread. It marks leaving school and joining his pastor father in dedicating his life to their congregation, the Garden of Adam. But when he comes home after one night of after a final goodbye with his friends, already self-flagellating for the sins of drinking and disobeying his father, he discovers his path is not as virtuous as he thought. He’s not his father’s successor, but his sacrifice. For the woods he’s grown up with are thirsty, and must be paid in blood.

Now on the run from a family that wants him dead, he turns to the only one who will believe him: Wil. Together, they form a reluctant partnership; she’ll help him hide if he helps her find evidence that his family killed her mother. But in the end they dig up more secrets than they bargained for, unraveling decades of dark cult dealings in their town, led by the Clarke family.

And there’s a reason they need Elwood’s blood for their satanic rituals. Something inhuman is growing inside of him. Everywhere he goes, the plants come alive and the forest calls to him, and Wil isn’t sure if she can save the boy she can’t help but love.


First published August 29, 2023

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About the author

Skyla Arndt

1 book260 followers
Skyla Arndt has always loved the creepy, crawly side of life. When she was younger, she thought that love might translate to hunting Bigfoot, but luckily for him, writing proved easier.

Her debut novel, Together We Rot, is forthcoming from Viking Children's/PRH in Fall 2023. You can connect with her on Instagram or Twitter at @arndtskyla. (Howling at the moon works, too.)

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 567 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,302 reviews43.9k followers
August 28, 2023
This breathtaking cover and Gothic/paranormal horror story meets YA romance is a great debut that you shouldn't miss!

The sensitive subjects of parental abuse, grief, alcoholism, corruption, and cultism are blended with paranormal elements and a riveting writing style that easily makes you invest in Will and Elwood's story.

Will is a hot-tempered, stubborn, tough, impulsive, and smart young woman who is not only grieving her missing mother but also the shell of her father, who buried his head in alcohol bottles. She suspects that the Clarke family is responsible for her mother's disappearance. But the Clarke family is the most powerful religious family, the pillar of the community, which is just a facade for a cult-leading family whose closets are filled with skeletons.

Will has already confronted her best friend (maybe more), Elwood, to make a choice between her and his family, but Elwood made the wrong choice, and their friendship ended.

Poor Elwood is a kind, shy, obedient, and sweet boy who has been harassed by his family, seeing things that question his sanity.

As Will keeps stalking the Clarke family to find out what they hide behind closed doors and what they plan during their congregations at church, Elwood realizes that something is happening to him. His family might be involved in something very lethal that could rock the ground beneath him. They might plan something that could ruin his life, and the only ally he can team up with is his estranged best friend/the girl he has had feelings for since they met: Will.

Could they fight against the bloodthirsty townies coming after them? What if there's something in the woods even more life-threatening than the murderous townies?

The ending wrenched my heart. I definitely cried my eyes out! It was good, fair, and well-executed, but it was still somewhat bitter for me!

I enjoyed this debut, and I'm looking forward to reading more works from the author in the near future

Follow me on medium.com to read my articles about books, movies, streaming series, astrology:

medium blog
Profile Image for Skyla Arndt.
Author 1 book260 followers
March 17, 2023
It’s official, ARCs are out and it’s time for me to banish myself from Goodreads (this is a space for reviewers, not authors). Before I go and hide, I wanted to remind everyone I have a list of content warnings for TOGETHER WE ROT that you can find here: https://arndtskyla.com/projects/

Also, for everyone who picks up this strange little book, thank you! Truly, thank you so much. This story has been a constant in my life for years now and it’s so surreal to send it out into this world, but this story belongs to all of you now.

Take care of yourself, stay safe, and happy reading!
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,480 reviews79k followers
August 9, 2023
Riveting from the first page, Together We Rot is perfect for fans of YA books such as The Devouring Gray and The Poison Season. A cold and dreary atmosphere, a creepy forest, and a secretive religious cult? Sign me up!

The premise behind this book is captivating, and I think with a higher page count and a one more editing pass, it could take this “good” book into the “great” category. At 256 pages, I struggled to find all the details and answers in the world building category as I would have liked. A bit more story to transition from the 80% mark to the conclusion would have helped the wrap up feel a less rushed, but overall this was a compulsive read. Elwood is a doll, and the ending is so bittersweet you can’t help but feel a yearning in your heart to see more of these characters in the future.

If you enjoy YA horror with dark romance vibes, definitely give this fast read a try!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,459 reviews351 followers
Want to read
July 22, 2023
hozier be like: hey girl, what if we rot together
Profile Image for Amina .
394 reviews225 followers
September 20, 2023
✰ 2.75 stars ✰

“And so they spilled the blood of Alderwood’s only son in the snow and the Lord was satisfied with this offering. With their Gift, the woods took on new life and a new Eden was born.”

While not as breathtakingly captivating as its cover, Together We Rot was a quick and easy read, which sadly did not deliver on a story that will be as memorable as it's cover is. As a debut, Skyla Arndt had a potentially interesting idea, which quickly delved into a weak romance and quickly resolved climax that made the entire build-up to it, anything but forgettable to whatever else took place in between. 😔

That's never a good sign.


“Then I’ll never grow up because I don’t plan on taking this lying down. If they’re punching me, then I’m punching back hard.”

For as much as Wil Greene despised Elwood upon his first arrival into the story, I didn't like how instantly the tables turned and she was already falling head over heels for him. Despite her snarky attitude, her character quickly dissolved into a smitten soul, who was determined to be by his side and rescue him from the clutches of the terrors that were clinging to his soul. 😮‍💨 Even with the dual POV narrative, I could not connect to either of their predicaments much, and even more so, could not empathize with Wil's distraught state over her missing mother. Their romance abruptly took precedent over the storyline as Wil made it her sole purpose to protect Elwood, reassuring him, 'You forget I hate the man more than anyone else on this planet. I’d gladly fight him on your behalf.'

Elwood, on the other hand, I could feel his distress - 'a means to an end' for his father, he had a lot to fear and it was depicted in a believable and frightening way that you could sense the creepy crawlies taking over his mind and spirit. 😳 The cult premise was a bit unexpected, but I liked how Skyla Arndt enhanced the apprehension and tension of it - the despair Elwood had at the mercy of a family that did not love him - at the fate of his future and at the hands of this crazed cult was so very palpable, heightened even more by the descriptive details of what was literally ensnaring him to the forest. The uneasiness of what was potentially growing inside of him - the uncertainty of his true creation - the unhappiness of being rejected by his own family - I felt all these feelings vividly through his emotions. 👍🏻👍🏻

“It’s been over from the start. Like I’ve told Kevin and Lucas, my life has never been a choice. It’s been laid out by my parents since birth. It only makes sense that fate’s got a hand in it too.”

While the pacing was very abrupt, it still moved at a solid pace - it wasn't haphazard, just too much in too less time. It would have benefited a lot if the author had not narrowed it done to a one night story - allowing the characters to develop and interact more. The Scooby-Doo vibes that I felt with their small group of friends as they hunted down clues to what was happening in their small town was quite enjoyable. It had some fun banter that brought some light-hearted levity to the otherwise very serious and sticky situations they found themselves in. 👌🏻

My greatest grievance, however, would be that this could have very much benefited from some finer tuning in editing. I know this is a rather trivial fact to cling on, but when there is one instance where a character is described with red hair and in the next one, the same character has blond hair - you're going to notice it - especially if you're reading as intently as I do. 😩 And then to note that Wil and Elwood shared a spark in their freshman year, and a few chapters later, it's their sophomore year - I'm such a stickler for little personal details, so that I can paint an image in my head with the features provided - it's just too noticeable a flaw for me to ignore. 😖

“The idea of having an actual home is so long gone, so distant now, that it doesn’t even seem real. The memories are there, but they feel transplanted, fed to me. Like a story you heard all the time growing up.

You might remember it by heart, but the story itself doesn’t belong to you.”

If it had not been so rushed, if the characters, the town history, even the horror could have expanded a little bit more and been a little bit more fleshed-out - it really did have the possibility of being a much more pleasant reading experience. 😞😞
Profile Image for dani ༊.
140 reviews135 followers
July 9, 2023
˚₊· ͟͟͞͞➳❥ 3.5/5 stars

read if you like:
♡ dual pov
♡ friends-to-enemies-to-lovers
♡ cinnamon-roll boyfriend & attack dog girlfriend
♡ perfect for house of hollow lovers
♡ folk horror

18-year-old spitfire wilhelmina greene’s mom has been missing for a year and everyone in pine point think she’s just skipped town. but wil knows with every fibre of her being that her former best friend elwood clarke’s fervently religious family is behind her mother’s disappearance. even if she can’t prove it yet and the police refuse to take her seriously. while wil is trying to dredge up evidence for her case, the dutiful and shy elwood comes home one night after breaking his parents' rules for the first time in his life to party and later overhears his father’s sinister plans for him - elwood is to be sacrificed for their church, the garden of adam. as he flees, he comes upon wil and the two of them decide to join forces to unearth what’s really happening in pine point.

a spellbinding debut from skyla arndt, together we rot is a meld of paranormal horror and gothic ya romance, bewitching you into the depths of pine point's eerie forest as you turn each page compulsively as if in a fever dream. through her cut-throat prose, arndt transports the reader to a world possessed by a cult and eldritch horrors, its grittiness soothed by sensitive explorations of abuse, sacrifice and family bonds. this story bristled down my spine, drawing goosebumps before driving a knife in with arndt's artfully-rendered characters and their more than unconventional love-story.

that said, i do have some quibbles with this novel, namely with its brevity which meant that the pacing was propulsive and too hurried to allow for the kind of careful attention which was called for here. for this reason, the more interesting elements such as the mythos surrounding the town and the forest were not given the space that was due them to really bloom. it’s this unrealised potential which niggled at me the most when reading - a weakness which is in many senses conceivable and perhaps defensible for a debut work.

➸ conclusion :
a haunting and vulnerable love-story barbed with cultism and body horror, together we rot is what happens when you bind romance with a forest straight out of folk horror imaginings. i'll be keeping an eye trained on arndt from here on out with such an auspicious start!

thank you netgalley for the arc !
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,201 reviews3,672 followers
September 13, 2023
Prickly girls, gothic horror, cults, ritualistic sacrifice, religious trauma, grief, parental abuse, and love are woven together in this darkly beautiful narrative.

Together We Rot follows two former best friends who have been torn apart by loss and familial loyalty. Wil's mom disappeared a year ago and she is convinced she was kidnapped by Elwood's dad, but no one will listen to her. Now her dad has fallen into an alcohol and grief-fueled stupor while Elwoods family plans to buy and demolish the rundown motel they own and live in.

Elwood has been raised by abusive, hyper-religious parents. His dad is the pastor of the town church and he has hardly stepped a toe out of line, even picking his family over Wil. Even though his had has made him participate in the ritualistic sacrifice of rabbits in the creepy woods next to the town. But now he's turning 18 and realizes that he is intended to be an even greater sacrifice and has to run to save his own life. But there may already be something strange growing within him...

This was intense but I couldn't put it down and ultimately it's a story that is dark and bloody, but also beautiful. Wil is a mess and all thorns- pushing people away because she's hurting and afraid of being hurt even more. But the friendships in this book (including a cast of side characters) are loyal and willing to go through hell for each other. It's a book about grief, pain, and abuse but also about healing and escape. I loved it. I would firmly call this horror with a romantic subplot. I received a copy of this book for review via Netgalley, all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for J  (Midnight Book Blog).
184 reviews606 followers
September 12, 2023
I never knew I needed a kind-hearted mothman story until now. Full RTC

What I liked: The characters in this book were absolutely my favorite part of it. Tough, knife to throat woman + soft, shy, kindhearted guy is my new favorite trope. There were so many witty lines between them interpersed with deep, beautiful quotes that had me enamored with the storytelling. I was very invested in the thriller/mystery aspect of the book too. Where is Wil’s mom? Is Elwood’s family responsible for her disappearance? What is it the church is hiding? Those questions kept me turning pages until the very end. The horror was well done in a way that reminded me of a slightly less creepy, and slightly less prose-y, version of House of Hollow.

What I didn’t like: this was a pretty short book, and at times I felt like I was missing something from the text. Like there had been a plot point glossed over, or suddenly things were happening too fast with not enough explanation/resolution. I kind of wish the ending had explained more in regards to the way the fantasy elements of the book worked and tied together in the end.

Overall: I would highly recommend this for the amazing characters, cute romance, beautiful writing, and intriguing mystery!

It’s scary stories season, everyone!! Thank you penguin teen for the finished copy (:
Profile Image for Lexi.
512 reviews225 followers
May 2, 2023
Together We Rot is an interesting book. Or maybe I should revise it- because it almost feels more fair to say that Together We Rot is an interesting short story with the ambitions of a novel.

The story itself is fascinating. Set in the isolated wilderness of the UP, the book is about two teenagers; Wil and Elwood. Wil's mother went missing unexpectedly; destroying her father and their family business in one fell swoop. It did not help that she accused her friend Elwood's family of being responsible either.

Elwood is from a hyper religious and very influential family. A year after Wil's accusation, he begins to uncover a conspiracy about his family that isn't just dark, but supernatural. If you love character with heaps and heaps of religious trauma, this is your character.

I adored the premise, the writing, and the settings of this story so much. The bones are fantastic. Skyla Arndt really has a gift for prose and sets up a gorgeously dark town with secrets you want to crack open. Unfortunately, I felt this could have been a series or much longer book. The beginning og the book starts slow, but then pretty much everything happens at once. The plot, friendships, and romance start running at breakneck speed and its super hard to emotionally catch up with it.

If you want a fun horror mystery with solid characters, I think there is a lot to love here, but I would have slowed the pace down quite a bit and given time for the characters to really grow.
Profile Image for Mallory.
1,246 reviews124 followers
July 18, 2023
I have to start with saying that this is by far one of the weirdest books I have read this year (or probably even the past several years). That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, it was a weird, wild, fast ride. I did find it short which I didn’t love because I was enjoying it. It is definitely one of those stories that will kind of stick with you because the images just won’t leave my head. I have no way of describing this story without spoilers so I will say it is about a boy and a girl who learn the hard way that their town has some pretty significant secrets it’s been keeping. The writing was very good. I loved the characters and felt they were surprisingly developed given how short this one was. The story itself does require a bit of a suspense of disbelief but I love a good urban fantasy story, and I liked that this one threw some horror int heir for good measure.
Profile Image for ☾.
234 reviews1 follower
September 17, 2023
i may or may not have added this because of the cover
you ever read a book and think “yeah.. you guys are not lasting as a couple”? this one right here. the second we hit the end credits they broke up and that is a FACT
Profile Image for Billie's Not So Secret Diary.
543 reviews19 followers
August 3, 2023
Together We Rot
by Skyla Arndt
YA Fantasy Horror
Ages: 14+
NetGalley ARC
Release Date: August 29, 2023
Penguin Group/Young Readers

Wil's (Wilhelmina (Willamena)) mom disappeared a year ago and the police, along with everyone else in town, believe she ran off because she did it once before, but, even though Elwood is her (ex)best friend, Wil thinks his father had something to do with her mom's disappearance.

As his eighteenth birthday approaches, Elwood is preparing to leave town, so to follow in his father's footsteps and one day take his father's place as pastor of the congregation. But after being caught sneaking back into the house, his father's wrath makes him pause, but upon overhearing a conversation between his father and the chief of police, Elwood starts to believe that his father isn't the man he pretends to be, and his plans for Elwood are not what he told Elwood.

This is one of those books that has a great idea for a plot, setting, and 'drama', but needs another hundred or more pages to make it come to life. There is not much about the town, let alone the other people in it.

Descriptions of the characters, settings, and even the backstory of the town and its residents are vague and very underdeveloped. A lot of details that could have been used to pull the reader deeper into the story were instead summarized. The relationship between Wil and Elwood could have added fifty pages for the reader to identify with them and feel more emotions about their separation.

The story was good, but I wish there was more to it. I wanted to learn more about this town and its people but not a lot of information was given. Yes, there was a page or two that involved the history, but it did nothing for me other than wonder if pages were left out of the advance copy.

This could have been a four-star book, but it was made into a too short of a story so it lacks personality and details.

2 Stars
Profile Image for Rae✿ [semi-hiatus].
167 reviews157 followers
September 20, 2023
dnf 49%

I just can't; the story is so boring and I feel like it needs lots of development and editing. Also, the characters are just so unappealing.
It just didn't work for me😞
Profile Image for Emilie in the Ether.
166 reviews65 followers
July 22, 2023
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I can’t really explain it but I feel like if you like Stranger Things, you would enjoy this book.

Together We Rot is about Wil whose mother has been missing for over a year, and Elwood who has a really religious family. The two them used to be best friends until Wil accused Elwood’s family of being responsible.
Elwood is about to turn 18, but after disobeying his father and going to a party, he discovers that his future may not be what he was expecting. He is to be sacrificed.
This is how Wil and Elwood grudgingly form and alliance ; she is going to hide him and he is going to help her find evidence that his family is responsible for her mother’s disappearance.

I really enjoyed the vibes of the book, which the cover captures perfectly. Together We Rot is dark and creepy. It is an eerie atmospheric tale with paranormal elements and an interesting cast of characters.
The story was beautifully written, alternating between Wil and Elwood’s POVs.
Elwood was undoubtedly my favorite character; he is sweet and soft.

I definitely think you would enjoy this book if you're looking for a story that blends horror, eeriness and romance.
Profile Image for Stevie.
248 reviews51 followers
September 11, 2023
“Come find me in the trees. I’ll wait for you.”

if you like:
- spooky forests
- religious cults dabbling in sacrifice
- he falls first and falls hard
- so much pining
- mothman

Prepare yourself for Together We Rot by Skyla Arndt out 8/29

Elwood is one of my favorite MMCs ever! He is so anxious and honest and adorable. Even with a demon riding passenger in him, he is just so *good*. He pines so hard for Wil. Hes just a little nerd obsessed with moths and this wild girl. I adore him.

Also Wil is up there with my fave FMC because she is simply so broken and unhinged. A wonderful combination. She got such "come at me bro" energy and she will fight to the end for what she thinks is right. She has such a one track mind that she barely sees herself falling for Elwood and its so amazing when she finally realizes.

One of my favorite things is when characters don’t forgive people. Shitty parents, friends, whoever it is. You don’t have to forgive the people who have traumatized you. Arndt gives us this with Elwoods father (and he gets the best kind of comeuppance) but she also gives us the repairing of Wil’s relationship with her dad. One had me cheering and then other had me crying, it was wonderful.

Arndt is going to be one to watch. Her writing is haunting, visceral, and beautiful. She so perfectly created the macabre air of this book. I have a hard time reading books with themes of religious trauma, and a few of the scenes were a little heavy for me but she handled them in such a perfect way.

As someone who reads a lot of big fantasy books, I was esctatic to be reading a book that was less than 300 pages. This was such a fast read, it was absolutely bingeable. The pacing was quick and easy to fall into. The plot was so perfectly crafted and I adore how Arndt chose to end the book (I cried again).

I am so excited to see what else Skyla Arndt puts on shelves! And I can't wait to grab a physical copy of Together We Rot once it comes out!

Arc received in exchanged for an honest review!
Profile Image for CYIReadBooks (Claire).
636 reviews103 followers
July 29, 2023
For a short novel of 272 pages, it sure took me a while to read it. I probably expected a lot more than what I got being that there were a number of stellar reviews. But, when it comes to certain genres, I am a lot more critical than most.

I didn't find anything creepy or scary about the novel, and the pacing for me was just too slow for my tastes. Somehow, I expected a more adrenaline filled narrative and at best, I got a lukewarm reception. The novel literally put me to sleep.

I really didn't connect with any of the characters. Though I did appreciate the dual points of view. So, by 47%, I was done for the day. I may pick it up again later, but as of right now, it's a one star DNF. Too bad because I did use my points to claim the book from Penguin Teen through the Bookish First Raffle.

The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.
Profile Image for Brend.
345 reviews435 followers
Want to read
March 4, 2023
Emo girlies will go crazy for this cover (me)
Profile Image for Lacee.
75 reviews3 followers
June 8, 2023
3.5⭐️ (rounded up)

Thank you so much to Skylar Arndt, Penguin Young Readers Group, and NetGalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I think it's important to express how much I absolutely love the cover; it's initially what drew me to wanting to read this book. I do enjoy a good love story with a happy ending, but I don't typically read them, including fantasy and horror. This just so happens to be a great mix of all of those. I found myself sucked into the story, truly wondering what was going to happen next. I think the story moved at a great pace and was the perfect length to convey what Skylar wanted. I'm not one to pay much attention to cult-related things, so that part was unnerving at times for me.

Wilhelmina, the main character, is a young girl on the hunt to find her mother, who has been missing for a year. Finding out the truth could all hinge on an estranged friend and his family, the Clarkes.

Wil had everything she needed before her mom went missing a year ago. She had a steady family and home life, and Elwood was her best friend. After missing flyers and searches were completed, her mom was never found, and the case is now looking at being officially closed. It's time to take matters into her own hands and get to the bottom of what really happened to her mom. Through the rekindling of a year-long dead friendship, more through necessity than desire, might just be what’s needed to get to the bottom of the missing person and the strange goings on of the Clarke family. In a turn of events, Wil will not be getting the answers she hoped for from her estranged best friend, but she will need to protect him from the inevitable.

You’ll find yourself wondering what has taken hold of Elwood's body and whether or not he can truly overcome it. In my opinion, it's an analogy to overcoming the biggest trial we may face in our lives. Either we face it head-on and conquer it, or we cower in fear and await our demise.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,113 reviews133 followers
September 7, 2023
"Other people know to draw back when they touch a flame. I only know how to walk through the coals."

Cult books will always have my heart

Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
638 reviews144 followers
October 24, 2021
Looking for something to be excited about? Then look no further than 2023's hottest horror, Together We Rot. This book has everything. Bugs. Cults. Friends-turned-enemies-turned-lovers. Questionable body horror. And prose that will make you scream with how good it is.
Profile Image for Kennedy.
118 reviews15 followers
April 28, 2023
Thank you to Skyla Arndt, Penguin Young Readers Group- Viking Young Readers Group, and NetGalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review-- all opinions are my own.

First I want to start this review by saying how beautiful the cover is. It is so detailed and intricate and drew my attention immediately. The title is also another point that made me want to read this book. I'm so happy that I received an ARC because I really enjoy a good creepy horror story. Skyla Arndt's writing and motivations for her characters really shine throughout the story in all aspects of writing. The attention to detail in both the way she writes and the descriptions for the cult and their behavior was really interesting, The prose for this book was written very nice as well and added to the atmosphere of the book. I found myself wishing there were more scenes with the cult and that the book was a little bit longer. It was a good length, but I just wanted a little bit more.to read and help develop the plot a little bit more. I really enjoyed reading this and hope to read more from the author in the future. Readers looking for a book that is a good mix of horror, fantasy, and something that keeps you on the edge of your seat should read this.
Profile Image for Nat.
118 reviews43 followers
Want to read
April 25, 2023
the world needs more paranormal slightly off-putting romance books about cults 🗣️🗣️🗣️
Profile Image for andi.
188 reviews17 followers
August 15, 2023
→ a huge thank you to the publisher for providing me with an arc via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

with a mesmerizing cover and a promising synopsis, “together we rot” is a horror fantasy novel that makes for a perfect read if, like me, you’re a fan of nature being used as a horror element. i found myself surprised at how much i ended up enjoying reading the story, as i’m not usually a huge fan of cults being written about in books. the book is perfect for those that relish paranormal romances & the “friends to one-sided rivals to lovers” trope, as both are done wonderfully.

i adored the skillful blend of romance and horror and, dare i say, the found family trope towards the end, even if it’s not as noticeable. wil’s and elwood’s dynamic made for an interesting read because i absolutely love the “soft boy x fierce girl” trope. their relationship evolved naturally and i didn’t feel like it was rushed at any point of the book. wil’s an interesting, complex character, while elwood is a more of a shy, soft boy and i think the dual povs really pulled the book together. i loved both of them, but i did like wil more as she’s completely unhinged – one of those characters that have one thing on their mind and will not stop until they get it, so it made for a fun read. the cast of side characters had their own personalities, even if they didn’t play a huge role in the story.

the plot was interesting and, even if i did think it dragged a bit at the start until the action picks up, i did like it. granted, i do think some of the twists were a bit predictable, but that didn’t dwindle my enjoyment of the book. i wish we were shown more of the lore about the cult and the story behind the forest, as these elements felt severely underused. from the half-way point, the book was well paced and i think the action evolved wonderfully.

for a debut novel, the writing truly stood out to me, as it’s lyrical without teetering on “too much”. i ended up rereading some paragraphs twice because they were that beautiful. arndt creates a deliciously creepy atmosphere and i’ll definitely keep an eye out for her next works, as i liked the writing style quite a lot.

overall, "together we rot" stands as a remarkable debut from an author brimming with potential. it holds immense appeal for enthusiasts of horror-infused romances, boasting not only stunning prose but also a cast of intricately developed characters. i’m looking forward to arndt’s future books, as i really enjoyed reading this one!
Profile Image for Christy Bath.
18 reviews
August 8, 2023
4.5 *review to come, I just finished so I’m still processing… the hurt, I mean… my thoughts* lol

::addendum 8/7/23::

“I feel like my heart is no longer within my ribs, but growing from the outside. It's Wil's for the taking. She could pluck it off me and sink her teeth into it if she wished. I have become so very vulnerable."

‘Together We Rot’ is a YA goth/horror romance that will linger in my mind for a while. I was drawn to this one because of the amazing cover art, then immediately sucked in by the story and characters. It had me so intrigued, I couldn’t look away! This book is beautifully written. So hauntingly beautiful that I can’t even be mad about the ending, although I wish it had been different.

✨dark fantasy romance
✨hauntingly atmospheric
✨tough FMC/cinnamon roll MMC
✨dual POV
✨forbidden love
✨friends to lovers
✨non~traditional HEA
✨perfect for a chilling Halloween read with romance, or for those who enjoy lighter gothic/horror reads

4.5 stars! I would absolutely read more work by this author.

🖤Thank you to Netgalley, Penguin Teen, and Skyla Arndt for the opportunity to read and review an advance ebook copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Millie  Cullen.
244 reviews
September 4, 2023
3.5 ⭐️

I’m a bit disappointed 😅
Was very excited to read this one but it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be 😣
Profile Image for Dani (Daniiireads).
1,304 reviews141 followers
June 14, 2023
Bit of a slow start that never quite hooked me in even when things did get a bit more interesting.

I think because of the whole murder cult plot, this would have benefited more from being written as adult horror.

If it had it could have played up the gruesomeness of the sacrifices/cult, offered more intense body horror, and really fleshed out the romance between Wil & Elwood (which was beyond rushed).

Overall, great concept but meh
Profile Image for Lolina.
798 reviews53 followers
Want to read
August 21, 2023
I've never read anything by this author before, and honestly just randomly came across the book: But that cover is STUNNINGGGG. It's acc art 😭.

This could be an abomination of a story but it wouldn't matter because of the cover 😭. I might be a little obsessed. But anyways the fact that this book is a gothic horror romance?? I'm intrigued 🙈.
Profile Image for Sheena.
613 reviews277 followers
August 30, 2023
I blew through this in a day because it’s a really easy read but it’s also just another YA paranormal horror book (lacks in horror, I don’t know if I would really classify it as that) with a lot of the same tropes done overdone. I didn’t find it unique and it was definitely missing something. The romance was also incredibly rushed - I’m over YA personally so I’m not sure why I still bother but overall I found it okay.

Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book!
Profile Image for Steph.
694 reviews29 followers
July 22, 2023

This was a fun read and has such a fantastic cover too! It’s a really creative plot and I loved the horror blended with the coming of age with a touch of romance. I thought the creepy atmosphere was really well done, the forest, the cult/church, the bugs - all of it, the horror vibes were 💯! It did feel a bit metaphor heavy, and for such a short book I wanted less descriptions and more focus on character development and backstory on the church. I did enjoy it though and can’t wait to see what the author writes next!

Thanks @bookishfirst and @penguinteen for the ARC!
Profile Image for Alexa.
125 reviews
July 6, 2023
This was just not good and I feel bad giving it such a low rating, but it’s disappointing to see something with points of potential feel so flat and rushed. The characters were seriously lacking and I’m not sure I understood the point of dual pov here. And I overall wouldn’t consider this horror. There was also too much “snarling” and “spilling” for my liking.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 567 reviews

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