Friday, December 24, 2021

Litani by Jess Lourey


I was inspired to read this after checking out my friend Heather's review, although I recommend doing what she said and skipping over the foreword, which is very spoilery and spoilers are totally Not Fun in a mystery like this where 95% of the fun is figuring out the Bad Things that are happening. And oh, what Bad Things they are.

Litani is a small town in the midwest. Our heroine, June, moves there from California after her father dies: an event for which she feels mysteriously responsible. In Litani, June is living with her aloof mother, a lawyer who separated from her dad long ago and who June visited only once, on an occasion that ended pretty miserably.

Right away, June realizes something isn't right in Litani. She's ambushed by a group of girls who beat her up and steal her shoes after telling her about something called The Game. All of the adults are either secretive or cagey, and her mother gives her some weird warning about not playing games with adults. The signs point to something incredibly fucked up happening. But what? And why?

So I ended up liking this a lot although not as much as I would have liked to. I loved June's voice and I think the author did a really good job having her sound like a teenage girl. I also loved the 80s setting and all of the 80s nostalgia (as well as the 80s playlist in the back of the book). The small town atmosphere and general aura of creepiness was also done well and kept me turning pages well into the night. Also, there's a kitten... and it DOESN'T die! WOOHOO! No on-page animal deaths!

Where this book fell a little short for me... June's obsession with plants came across as a little cheesy and there were some things going on that didn't really make sense. (I feel like I can say without spoilering anything major that her mother seemed to have some kind of personality disorder and no, this is never really addressed.) I guess I was expecting more of a revelatory twist, but the foreword and the summary kind of spoil too much, so it was more like just sitting here and waiting for the end.

I do like this book though and I think if you enjoy a lot of atmosphere in your thrillers, you'll like this too. Especially if you prefer psychological horror to on-page violence and gore.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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