Posted in Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

YA suspense: Four Found Dead

Four Found Dead, by Natalie D. Richards, (May 2023, Sourcebooks Fire), $11.99, ISBN: 9781728215815

Ages 14+

Jo and her friends are finishing up their last shift at the Tempest, the last store in a shuttered mall that’s closing for good. But at closing time, the doors are locked and their phones are locked in the safe; their manager, Clayton, won’t allow anyone to have them while on shift. The lights go out, and there’s a chilling scream: one of the coworkers has been murdered, and Clayton, unhinged, is set on killing Jo and her coworkers. A high-tension chase through an abandoned mall begins as the group tries to survive the night and find a way out. Four Found Dead is full of ’90s thriller tropes, and I loved the abandoned mall setting. The story alternates between Jo’s narration and news articles published after the night of the murders; Jo’s narration includes some backstory that fleshes her character out a bit more than her colleagues. I’d have liked some more suspense surrounding the killer, and a little more backstory overall, but overall? Four Found Dead is a fast-paced read that delivers the thrills.

Posted in Realistic Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Supernatural thriller: We All Fall Down

We All Fall Down, by Natalie D. Richards, (Oct. 2017, Sourcebooks Fire), $10.99, ISBN: 9781492654384

Recommended for readers 13+

Part fated romance, part supernatural thriller, We All Fall Down is the story of Theo and Paige; two friends who are haunted by a night on an old bridge, where an argument between Theo and another classmate turned into a fight; Theo took a swing, but it was Paige who was injured.

Four months later, they’re each trying to move on, but something at the bridge refuses to let them forget. Paige and Theo must work together to stop whatever energy is coming from the bridge.

I had higher hopes for All Fall Down, to be honest. It’s an interesting look at two characters with varying mental illnesses – Theo claims to have “ODD, ADHD… I’ve got to be forgetting some letters here”, and Paige suffers from severe anxiety. The story didn’t really need a supernatural element added to it to be compelling; Natalie Richards had great material to work with, had she gone deeper into the characters, their relationship, and the repercussions of the night Paige was injured. It’s an interesting thriller that started strong, but could have been unputdownable with just a slight change in focus.