Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black

This was a book that I picked up on a whim, never having heard it hyped. I’ll admit I was mainly drawn in purely by the gorgeous cover and the Connecticut setting. As a Connecticut resident, it’s a weakness of mine: say your book is set here, and I’ll probably read it. Some authors get it right, and some get it wrong. (Dear Morgan Matson: bears are actually extremely common here, to the point that they’re a public annoyance! The more you know~~~)

Anyway, the first hundred or so pages were very strong and an engrossing read. The pacing was appropriately swift, and the two love interests for the obvious love triangle were both interesting choices, where neither one was the apparent slotted winner of the MC’s affection.

The middle lagged, though, due to quite a lot of dialogue exposition. Everyone in the MC’s life is suddenly willing to spill their deepest, darkest secrets to her at the barest prompting–I wish the MC had needed to be a bit more active in forcing these reveals. This in combination with the love triangle makes the MC come across as fairly Mary Sue-ish. She’s beautiful, a valedictorian, and has two boys following her around like puppies. Add on the MC’s focus on women’s rights, which gives her a holier-than-thou feel in relation to the mid-18oos time period, and we get a character who comes across as entirely out of place and time.

I also had mixed feelings about the ending, which featured another onslaught of expository dialogue. The revealed web of secrets and influence was initially fun, but became a bit confusing for me–possibly just a me thing? I can forgive the wobbly ending, if simply because I don’t normally read mysteries and I’m not experienced enough to say what makes a good or bad “big reveal.” What I can say is that the final denouement is surprisingly well done–not too rushed, not too prolonged. All the threads come together, and we’re not left feeling like the author might try to eke out a sequel for some extra bucks. My, how nice it is to read a true stand-alone.

So all in all, I’d say it’s a decent read for anyone who likes YA mysteries, love triangles, or easy-to-read historical fiction. Nothing that I’ll reread, but I don’t regret picking it up.

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