Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: The Foxglove Killings by Tara Kelly

Title: The Foxglove Killings
Author: Tara Kelly
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Published Date: 1 September 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

I received this book through NetGalley from Entangled Teen for review.

Gramps always said that when the crickets were quiet, something bad was coming. And the crickets have been as silent as the dead. It started with the murdered deer in the playground with the unmistakable purple of a foxglove in its mouth. But in the dying boondock town of Emerald Cove, life goes on.

I work at Gramps's diner, and the cakes―the entitled rich kids who vacation here―make our lives hell. My best friend, Alex Pace, is the one person who gets me. Only Alex has changed. He's almost like a stranger now. I can't figure it out...or why I'm having distinctly more-than-friend feelings for him. Ones I shouldn't be having.

Then one of the cakes disappears.

When she turns up murdered, a foxglove in her mouth, a rumor goes around that Alex was the last person seen with her—and everyone but me believes it. Well, everyone except my worst enemy, Jenika Shaw. When Alex goes missing, it's up to us to prove his innocence and uncover the true killer. But the truth will shatter everything I've ever known about myself — and Alex.
(summary from Goodreads)

Tara Kelly has crafted an unnerving mystery that keeps you guessing until the end!

And I truly mean that because guess what? I didn't predict who the killer was! For that alone, I love The Foxglove Killings. Honestly, it doesn't happen often. Usually if it's not outright obvious there's some little clue that gives it away just that bit too early, but this time around I got to enjoy the revelation in the moment. And oh, how I did. It wasn't that it's this huge giant shock because it does make sense. For me, I paused, replayed all that had happened in this new light and thought "well, holy shit". Major kudos to Tara Kelly. I feel like I should've realised and that makes it all the better. What Kelly did such a fantastic job of was providing us multiple suspects. So many characters throughout this book could've legitimately been the killer, because at one time or another each had motive and Kelly successfully had me questioning all of them. This only builds the tension because like Nova I couldn't decide who to trust and so there's this constant note of danger, increasing as the story continues and characters disappear.  

The suspense of The Foxglove Killings is palpable. This book is definitely a thriller. Right from the beginning Kelly sets the scene and she never loses the tone throughout the rest of the novel. It is an intense, nerve-wracking and chilling atmospheric read that I couldn't put down. I started reading The Foxglove Killings pretty late and at about 11.30pm when I was getting into bed, Kindle had helpfully informed me I only had an hour and a half left to read. I figured, why not? I had nowhere to be the next day. Yeah, finishing the book at 1.30am in a pitch black and silent house? Not my brightest idea. It's not that The Foxglove Killings crosses into horror. There's certainly some horrific moments but not in an overly gory, scare the bejeezus out of you way. It's subtle. It's the creepy moments that have you reading with bated breath, that evoke just enough fear and disgust that your skin crawls. It's the descriptions of that feeling of being watched, of hearing a noise outside the window, of unknowingly being vulnerable and in danger, of realising just how sadistic the killer is. I finished The Foxglove Killings, settled in to go to sleep, and then froze with fear because something rustled outside my window, which is actually a common noise. It wasn't until that moment that I even realised Kelly's writing had honestly freaked me out. Which then had me grinning, because I do love being scared. It just wasn't something I expected from this book!

The Foxglove Killings portrays some heartfelt drama too. Because while a psychopathic killer is on the loose, life still goes on. So throughout this book there's still the everyday issues of love, loss, bullying, family, friendship, sex, betrayal, prejudice, and the like. Kelly strikes a great balance, because the everydayness, the things seemingly unrelated to the murders and the killer, still increase the terrifying nature of the mystery. Because let's face it, one of these characters, dealing with their own issues, is also a murderer. Plus so many of the characters have an inherent brutality to them. This entire town has that feeling, what with the feud between the residents and the 'cakes'. It's terrible, the fighting and bullying. And Nova is caught in the middle of it. I really liked Nova. She has this depth to her, this thoughtfulness and way of seeing and feeling that is relatable. I liked her relationships with other characters, Alex especially. You're hoping these two figure out their feelings for each other and are able to make it work while I also worrying there's more to it that they can't get past. The emotion of being best friends but facing inevitable changes and the possibility of romance is charged. Jenika increases the tension, both of the story and between Nova and Alex. She's full of so much anger and bitterness. The way her and Nova clash but also connect is great. Seriously, the intensity between all of these characters kind of made my heart hurt. The clear winner for Favourite Character is Gramps though. I loved how he was always prepared to listen to Nova, to be honest and forthright. He gave you the sense that everything could be okay, which is interesting in a book that is at times so unsettling.

The Foxglove Killings is everything I want in a mystery. Unpredictable and frightening, it packs a whollop.




  1. I have to get a copy of this, it sounds great. Wish I could stay up late to read but work gets in the way!

    1. I don't usually sleep before 2am, to be honest, so I get a lot of reading done in those late/early hours. I hope you enjoy The Foxglove Killings if you read it! :-D Thanks, Barb.