Okey dokey! I realized I'm not doing as badly on the Debut Author Challenge as I'd thought! Here's the rundown of what I've read and when I read them:
Jan: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
Feb: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Feb: Fates by Lanie Brass
March: Red Rising by Pierce Brown
April: Sekret by Lindsay Smith
May: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (admittedly folks are on the fence about counting this one as it was an adult release cross marketed to teens)
July: The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco
August: Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson
September: The Jewel by Amy Ewing
October: Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
November: Stone Cove Island by Suzanne Myers
So even though I didn't have a June book, my two Febs have me all caught up. And the actual accounting of the challenge did fall apart as it transitioned from one host to another, so those middle titles never made it to any link ups.
Before I put all that together I was rushing to squeeze in a few more books before the year rolls to an end and decided Danielle Vega's The Merciless would be my next read.
Sofia is used to being the new girl in town. Her mom is a military medical technician, which means they move around a lot. It makes it hard to have real friends, but Sofia has high hopes for their newest home. The town is called Friend, after all.
Sofia finds herself pretty quickly embraced by one of the school's cliques and is accepted and embraced for the first time that she can remember. But something isn't quite right with new pals Riley, Grace, and Alexis. They have a weird obsession with another girl in school and are seemingly convinced that the girl is evil. And not just mean girl evil, biblical evil. Riley convinces the group that this girl needs to be saved, but even Sofia couldn't guess how far Riley and her friends are willing to go.
The Merciless released in June and I heard absolutely nothing about it. Which was weird because it falls right there in the teen horror category and I love horror of any kind. Anyway, it's a Razorbill release and part of Alloy Entertainment's growing list of titles. I discovered, too, that while this does fit the DAC challenge it actually isn't the author's debut. Danielle Rollins writes tweens as Ellie Robbins and horror as Danielle Vega - Merciless is the debut title for her Vega pseudonym.
The action kicks off a little too quickly in The Merciless for my taste - I would have liked a chance to get to know the girls a bit more, or at least feel like Sofia had a chance to get to know them more before diving so readily into their schemes. I didn't feel comfortable that I knew enough to believe that Sofia would so readily join in on Riley's or Brooklyn's plots. Not that I couldn't believe it, just that I didn't know her well enough as things started rolling along.
Once they get down to the real dirty plot, though, this book takes off!
I kind of liked that I knew little about the book going in because it made the story that much more shocking and surprising for me. And The Merciless is just that: shocking and surprising. So yeah, I'll let you be surprised as well and not give away anything more about the plot or the premise but this was definitely a dark and fun return to some of the 90s horror movies I remember from my teen years!
BTW - this has horror movie blockbuster written all over it and it looks to be possibly in development - according to Vega's Twitter.