The Dead and The Dark Review

Review of Forthcoming YA Novel by Courtney Gould

As a black reader, I would be remiss to mention that in The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould, there are too many connections between evil and black for my liking. Though the tale of light vs. dark is as old as time, it doesn't mean the way we've categorized who falls into the light and dark categories isn't extremely harmful.  I understand that this is something we believe is inherent, that you always have to walk towards the light/the dark is something to fear, but if readers aren't discerning, having so many associations between black and evil can be dangerous.  

With that being said, I enjoyed the characters, the action, and the suspense in this story. An unknown murderer is stalking the small town of Snakebite in rural Oregon. London, newcomer and the daughter of Alejo and Brandon, wants nothing more than to get out of the hometown of the two men. But the men are determined to rid the town of a mysterious and threatening unknown and as more secrets and missing teens pop up around them, the town refuses to let them go.

Among haunting lines such as:
"It was a sadness that breathed. It wasn't final."
"It wasn't anyone's fault. It was just time. Maybe that was worse."
"Ever since they'd arrived, the shadows had teeth."
"The truth was in front of her now, if she could just be brave enough to see it."

Gould creates a world that sucks you in from the very first chapter. Filled with gay, bi, and lesbian characters, I was tentatively excited to find them front and center in this story (thankfully this isn't a story that adds more gays to the burial site) and felt extremely seen in that regard. I had no idea who the murderer was and stayed up all night trying to figure it out. Somehow Gould has plucked the hope and desperation of the characters out of their chests and put them directly into mine. I went to bed thinking over and over again how Gould had done this and settled on this: There is above all else a beating heart at the center of this story, making it inevitable for the characters, the horror, the deep down questions you don't want to answer in the middle of the night, stick with you long after the book is done.

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould comes out August 3, 2021, from Wednesday Books!