Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.
Then Summer goes missing. Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally.
But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye…
For over a year five young, churchgoing girls have disappeared from Briar County. They are know as the “Briar girls”. The citizens of Grace, Alabama have told their kids not to go out after dark and under no circumstances should they even look in the direction of Hell’s Gate National Forest. The newspapers have nicknamed the perpetrator as “the Bird” and that is how Grace’s citizens now live – in fear of “the Bird”.
Out of the blue another girl has now gone missing, Summer Ryan. Unlike the other five girls, Summer has left a note. Is she the sixth “Briar girl”? Summer’s twin sister Raine has taken matters into her own hands and is determined to leave no stone unturned to find her sister.
From the very first page Chris Whitaker does an excellent job of setting the tone for this book. It takes place in the small town of Grace, Alabama. Its citizens have a southern dialect that easily transports you right to the south.
This book is dark and heavy. Don’t expect a light, fun mystery – this book is quite the opposite. Through much of the story there is a dark storm cloud hanging over the town of Grace.
The bird was back, God sent the cloud ’cause the devil was at work in Hell’s Gate.
I wouldn’t call this a religious book, but it very much centers around “the church”. Not just St. Luke’s in Grace, but many other outlying churches. All five girls that disappeared were churchgoers, but not all from the same church.
The bell tower at St. Luke’s is something special. It chimes on the hour. Don’t matter if I’m reading or watching Raine swing out over the Silver. I always hear it and I always notice ’cause it’s kinda like the heartbeat of Grace.
The atmosphere Chris Whitaker created was fantastic and the last 40% of the book was very intense. It didn’t pull me in and sweep me off my feet as much as I had expected it too, but overall I thought it was a pretty good story. I do appear to be in the minority of how much I enjoyed this book, so I encourage you to give it try.
*Thank you NetGalley, Bonnier Zaffre, and Chris Whitaker for the opportunity to read and review this book for my honest opinion.
My Rating: 3.5/5
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre