Author- Kat Ellis
Title-Wicked Little Deeds
Publication Date- 5August 2021
Comment– I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review from Penguin books and @the_writereads. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced by the Evil Eye.
From its creepy town mascot to the story of its cursed waterfall, Burden Falls is a small town dripping with superstition. Ava Thorn knows this well – since the horrific accident she witnessed a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares.
But when her school nemesis is brutally murdered and Ava is the primary suspect, she starts to wonder if the legends surrounding the town are more fact than fiction.
Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose, and they have a vendetta against the Thorns…
Ava Thorn hates the family that have moved into her manor, causing her to have to relocate to a dinky little cottage on the edge of town.
She hates the two children, Dominic and Freya for their online sensationalist supernatural show. She hates their huge dog, Pilot, and their ridiculously glamourous mother. Most of all she hates Madoc Miller, the father, because he was the one who rammed into her parents’ car, causing them to lose their lives, their home and their business.
But when Freya is brutally murdered in a similar way to the town’s legendary spook Dead-Eyed-Sadie, Ava becomes a suspect. Desperate to clear her name, Ava teams up with the one person she can’t stand to research the town and it’s secrets.
But someone wants those secrets to stay buried and will do whatever it takes to keep them that way.
After reading Harrow Lake by Kate Ellis last year, I knew I wanted to read more of her books. She has a fantastic way of using the town to add atmosphere and tension in such a way that the place itself almost becomes another character.
In Wicked Little Deeds the town of Burden Falls becomes as much of a persona as the actual humans and lore that live there.
With her fantastic descriptions of the mist covered falls and the plethora of ‘evil-eye’ carvings everywhere, you really get the sense of this town steeped in legend and superstition. I was getting X-Files, Riverdale, Twilight Zone vibes of a place suffocating and narrow where the lines between reality and the supernatural are blurred. It evoked such a strong response that I actually dreamt about Burden Falls.
The characters themselves were many and varied and yet each managed to stand out in their own way. Ava, as the MC, was flawed but realistic and her PTSD and attitude were both understandable and sympathetic and yet she never tipped over into victimhood. Dominic wasn’t your usual misunderstood teenage boy or mean boy. Uncle Ty was both guardian and heart-broken brother with a drinking problem that wasn’t a copy-paste ‘alcoholic’ adult figure.
In fact all of the characters were so nuanced that they all felt incredibly realistic and it was easy to feel for them. (Except Mr Hamish who can suck it.)
Even the legend of Dead-Eyed-Sadie came alive and you really began to believe she was real.
I have a nasty habit of guessing the twist or the murderer quite early on in most books and movies. I’m rarely surprised by whodunnits and, honestly, it can get a bit annoying. But, hand on heart, until chapter 34 I was guessing along with everyone else. It was one tiny action that made things click and I was genuinely excited to see if I was right.
I hadn’t got it all and some of the reveal was a total surprise. This is, in my opinion, what make a great thriller. When the foreshadowing isn’t rammed down your throat but, afterwards, you could kick yourself for missing the signs.
I thought it was clever and entertaining and reminded me of reading Point Horror books back in the day. There was that sense of genuine anticipation and enjoyment.
Wicked Little Deeds just exudes the perfect blend of twisty mystery, supernatural suspense and atmospheric thriller that will have you gripped until the last page.