(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Tom Doherty Associates on August 7th 2018
Genres: 19th Century, Historical, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Romance, United States, Young Adult Fiction
Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother's legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.
Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.
Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black was one of my most anticipated reads for this summer and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to get my hands on a review copy. This book is the perfect mix of historical and gothic mystery that I didn’t want to put it down from the moment I turned to the first page. No spoilers here because I don’t want to ruin this story for anyone so apologies in advance if anything sounds vague.
Valentine Deluca is the main character and her family is central to the story. See, years ago, her mother was hanged for murder and since then, Valentine has been a bit of an outcast in her town, Fevers Crossing because the man her mother murdered was the son of the most prominent family, the Blackshaws. In addition to that, her father isn’t around too much due to his job.
As the story begins, we find out that Valentine has had a mysterious benefactor pay her way through school at the most prestigious school in the area, Drake Academy. Valentine has worked hard but because of her past, hasn’t made many friends. It just happens to be the same school that Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man Valentine’s mother killed, goes to as well. When Valentine is finally recognized for her hard work, things begin to change for her. She can’t just hide in the shadows and this prompts some changes in her normal day to day life.
I really liked Valentine. She is kind and like a normal teenager, doesn’t have everything figured out. Unfortunately for her, some pretty heavy things have happened in her family and now that she is pretty much on her own, she is determined to find out what exactly happened to put her mother in a position to kill someone. As Valentine digs into everything, she finds out a lot of unexpected things. Not only with her parents but also with some of the other families in Fevers Crossing.
I liked the friendship that Valentine had with Sam. He has been her rock for a long time and while he doesn’t come from the best family in town, he is there for her when she needs him. I could sense Sam’s frustration with Valentine putting him off all the time and definitely didn’t love the way he responded to her hesitation – especially when he realized he wasn’t going to be the one. With that said, I also didn’t like that Valentine basically looked to settle (in my opinion) with Sam at one point. It wasn’t fair to him and I’m glad she came to her senses.
The romance portion of this story revolves around the one boy that Valentine never would have thought to consider, Rowan Blackshaw. Rowan is the popular guy at school and comes from the richest family in town but somehow Valentine has caught his attention and as the story progresses, we learn more about him and his life with his grandmother. I loved seeing a different side to him than what I originally thought he would be and I can understand why Valentine falls for him because he’s pretty swoony.
One of the other great things about this book is the setting of the story. This takes place in 1849 and in Connecticut and it’s the small town feel of Fevers Crossing that helped to make the family histories impactful. I had this feeling that it was a “everyone knows everyone else’s business” type of situation…or at least they thought they did. I’ll admit the mystery part of the story had me guessing until the very end and I love that!
That’s it! I can’t say anything more as I don’t want to give away anything. Just know that I really enjoyed this book and it kept me turning the pages. There is mystery, romance, and a bit of danger here so if you are looking for something to read that ticks all those boxes, check this one out. I will definitely be checking out whatever is next for Teri Bailey Black and can’t wait until I have a finished copy of this on my shelves.
Thank you to the publisher for the early copy in exchange for an honest review.