Courtney Gould’s thrilling YA 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―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 point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just come 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 than ghosts plaguing this small town. Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his ghost following her ever since. Although everyone shuns the Ortiz-Woodleys, the mysterious Logan may be the only person who can help Ashley get some answers. 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
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When they arrive, they know that something is wrong in Snakebite, and it is not just the hate and intolerance but something much more sinister growing there. A boy has gone missing, and his girlfriend, Ashley, is doing whatever she can to look for him. When Ashley and Logan meet, they decide to begin looking into his disappearance and as more kids begin to disappear, it becomes clear that time is running out.
What I loved: This book absolutely pulled me in right from the start with the mystery of it all. I will say not to read this at night, because wow, does it do creepy so well! I don't think text messages have ever made me jump before, and this was absolutely a deliciously scary read. The pacing is perfect with the right amount of lead-in to maximize the atmosphere. The mysteries and eventual resolution were really fascinating, and the plotting was done expertly with some twists along the way.
The other themes in the book around friendship, LGBT relationships and reactions around them, hate, and small-town mindsets added to the setting and also made this a more potent read. I appreciated both Alejo and Brandon's relationship, as well as the one that develops with Logan and Ashley. There was the right amount of buildup and feelings, and it made this more than just a horror book (the paranormal horror was not any worse than the horrifying hate crimes here).
Final verdict: A fantastically creepy read, THE DEAD AND THE DARK is a delicious paranormal horror that is sure to keep you up at night. Highly recommend for anyone who enjoys ghost stories and an LGBT romance - this one is done spectacularly!