Courtney Gould’s THE DEAD AND THE DARK Explores the Haunting Heartbreak of Love and Loss

Desperate times can result in dangerous deals. THE DEAD AND THE DARK reminds us what some are willing to risk to keep our loved ones alive.

What would you do — how far would you go — to save the person you loved most in the world?

In The Dead and the Dark, Courtney Gould paints a chilling picture of an imperfect family who must depend on each other now more than ever.

Logan, the daughter of celebrity ghost-hunter dads, wants nothing to do with small towns, ghosts, or worst of all, her parents. Watching them detect paranormal activity in front of cameras was never the life she signed up for, and she wants out.

So why has she found herself in a town full of ghosts?

On its surface, Gould’s paranormal YA mystery seems like any other. Logan is mere months away from turning 18 and being able to set off on her own to build the life she really wants — one where she won’t have to live in a car or a lonely LA mansion with dads who don’t seem to care about her.

Little does she know that apathy is the last thing her parents feel toward her. In fact, there was a time when they may have cared a little too much.

As I flew through this book (in less than 24 hours, because why not?), it began to grow on me in ways I didn’t expect. This isn’t your typical “something weird’s going down in some random village in Oregon” horror narratives, though to be fair, weird stuff does happen in Snakebite, and the culprit probably isn’t who you’re expecting.

This is a no-spoiler review, otherwise I’d be typing the truth in all caps right now. I’ll let you figure it out for yourself, if you can.

Something I often struggle with while reading books slotted in this genre is connecting with the characters. Partially due to the fact that I’m not as well-read in this area as I could be, but I’m working on it. Often, the story is so plot-driven and focused on offering clues in every chapter that developing each character becomes a secondary objective.

That’s not the case in Gould’s story, though. I actually found myself rooting for the MCs and fairly devastated with every kill (surprise! There are a lot of deaths within these pages. You’re not surprised. It’s fine.)

To me, that’s a good mystery. I don’t have to finish this out just to find out who murdered a bunch of teenagers. I get to have closure alongside the characters I’ve been following, and celebrate on behalf of the few that get their happy endings.

The reveal toward the end speaks beautifully to the dangers of loving someone so much you’re willing to put your family in danger to keep it together. Grief brings out the darkest parts of ourselves, and in a deep state of mourning we’ll consider doing whatever it takes not to feel the pain of loss for the rest of our lives.

But in the end, we do have to actively decide what “letting go” means for us. The answer is perhaps different for everyone. There are no easy answers, no simple solutions. It’s a process. One that can take years. Or even a lifetime.

As summer book releases quickly approach their winding-down period, make sure you grab your copy of The Dead and the Dark today wherever books are sold. And get some tissues while you’re at it. Just in case.

Meg Dowell is the creator of Brain Rush, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words, and Not a Book Hoarder, celebrating books of all kinds. She is an editor, writer, book reviewer, podcaster, and photographer. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about nonsense and Star Wars.