Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black: A Book Review

Girl at the Grave 
Author: Teri Bailey Black
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Mystery & Suspense
Publisher: Tor Teen 
Release Date: 2018
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In Girl at the Grave, debut author Teri Bailey Black unearths the long-buried secrets of a small 1850s New England town in this richly atmospheric Gothic tale of murder, guilt, redemption, and finding love where least expected.

    A mother hanged for murder.
    A daughter left to pick up the pieces of their crumbling estate.
    Can she clear her family’s name if it means facing her own dark past?

    Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother's legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.

     Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.

    My Review: At a young age, Valentine witnessed her mother killing a man. Years later, as a teenager, Valentine still bears the stigma of being a murderer’s daughter. Valentine has been ostracised by the people in her town. In school, she has to face Rowan, the son of the man who her mother murdered. One day, a preacher comes up to her and tells her that her mother may have been innocent. Valentine suspects that there was more to the murder than what she was led to believe. Can Valentine find the real killer and clear her mother’s name?

    At first, Valentine seemed to  be a very sympathetic character. She has been traumatized for witnessing her mother committing murder. However, throughout the novel, I started to dislike her. Valentine is a very selfish character. She doesn't care about anyone and how her actions may affect others. When her father and best friend go missing, Valentine does not bother to go searching for them, and instead cares about her romance with Rowan. Valentine also leads her best friend Sam on and cheats on him behind his back. These actions were very distasteful for a heroine, and I did not understand why two men were in love with her. She was not worthy of anyone’s love, and I hoped that both men would drop her because she often mistreated them. I was also upset that she did not even try to solve her mother’s murder. Thus, Valentine was one of the most frustrating and annoying characters that I have ever read.

   Overall, this novel is about secrets, betrayal, and love. The characters were flat and had little character depth. The romance between Valentine and Rowan was very unrealistic and instant. I thought Rowan was too good for Valentine and hoped he would love someone else, for she was very mean to him. While the mystery was very surprising and well-done, it was not the focus of the story. The main focus was the distressing love triangle between Rowan and Sam. Still, I recommend this for fans of Strands of Bronze and Gold, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, and The Witch of Willow Hall. However, for those who do not like a silly and bland heroine, this book may not be for you.

Rating: 2½ out of 5 stars

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